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The latest KIDS Count data book shows kids struggle with mental-health challenges

Anxiety Support Signs
Dan Meyers/Unplash

Illinois ranks 23rd in an annual 50-state report on child well-being.

The 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book specifically highlights the mental-health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic, with about 9% of Illinois children between the ages of 3 and 17 struggling with anxiety or depression.

Leslie Boissiere with the Casey Foundation says kids who grow up in poverty or without having their basic needs met experience more stress.

"There's a direct correlation between trauma and stress and poverty. We know that the financial hardships that families experience – lack of access to basic needs, like nutrition and health care – has a direct impact on the well-being of kids."

Missouri ranks 27th for overall child well-being. Missouri showed improvement in all of the report’s economic indicators, including a lower child poverty rate than the national average.

Boissiere says the federal government has offered supports, such as additional food assistance during the pandemic, but notes help is likely to expire soon.

"It’s incredibly important that decision makers seize the opportunity and the lessons learned during the COVID-19 period, when more resources were provided to families, so that we can make sure that every child has their basic needs met and that the overall well-being of children increases."

The report says racial and ethnic disparities contribute to disproportionately troubling mental-health conditions among children of color.

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