The 2019 Oregon County Data Book, produced annually by Children First for Oregon, was released Wednesday. This is the latest edition of Oregon’s County Data Book, a snapshot of child and family wellbeing, made up of 21 indicators organized into five domains.
Overall for Oregon’s children, things aren’t looking great. On a national scale, according to the National KIDS Count Data Book produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Oregon’s children rank 31st out of 50 states.
Nationally, our standout success has been in child insurance rates; over 95% of children have had health insurance in each of the past 3 years, and we’ve continued to improve accessibility to insurance, driving the child uninsured rate down from 4.6% in 2015 to 3.5% in 2018.
However, most indicators have stagnated or worsened compared to last year. The most notable change was an increase in the number of referrals to the juvenile justice system (from 13.5 per 1000 youth in 2017 data, to 21 per 1000 youth in 2018 data). This indicator alone raises some important questions; Why are there so many more young people being routed into the justice system? Is there a common thread between the other indicators and this jump? What can we do to dig into this and create pathways to further action?
“The county data book is a launchpad into deeper conversations about how our communities are doing now and how we can prioritize our children’s needs. At CFFO, we want to move toward digging into the roots of what we can see happening in this data book” said Tab Dansby, CFFO Kids COUNT Coordinator.
At the county level, indicator performance varied widely. Rural and metro counties have both successes to celebrate and areas that are in serious need of improvement.
For example, over 85% of Douglas County mothers received care they needed to have a healthy pregnancy, while less than 70% of students graduated on time. Wheeler County has the lowest number of juvenile justice referrals, but struggles with graduation rates and insurance for children. Washington County has the lowest childhood poverty rate, but has work to do when it comes to helping youth in foster care find families.
“The unevenness of experiences across the state shows that we need to do better for all our children. All Oregon children deserve equal access to opportunity and what this year’s data book says is that we, Oregonians, need to lean in, together, and make sure that every county in the state has what it needs to make that a reality, said Jenifer Wagley, Executive Director of CFFO.
The well-being and economic future of the state of Oregon depends on making sure communities across the state are healthy; families with young children are being supported at the critical early stages of family life; and that all have a robust network of social supports and community connections. CFFO works to support the communities and policies that support this future, today.
To learn more about the data and how CFFO works to create meaningful change for all of our children, join them at the release event “The State of Oregon’s Children” at Backyard Social (1914 N Killingsworth St. in Portland) on November 4 from 6 pm until 8 pm.
Oregon’s KIDS COUNT® County Data Book will be available at www.cffo.org.
About Children First for Oregon
Children First for Oregon (CFFO) is a statewide, nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower communities to advocate for kids so all children in Oregon can thrive. Since 1991, CFFO has worked across the state to galvanize community support for children and inform decision makers about the solutions kids need. CFFO convenes and engages communities through four program areas: legislative solutions, foster youth advocacy, child abuse prevention, and research and data. Learn more at www.cffo.org.
About the Annie E. Casey Foundation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.