Survey of Child Health Shows Mixed Results in Pennsylvania

While Pennsylvania has improved slightly since the 2013 review in rankings of children’s “education,” “family and community,” and overall “economic well-being,” according to the 2014 KIDS COUNT Databook, the state shows mixed results in other health measures.

Overall, Pennsylvania ranked 25th in health, down from 22nd last year among the 50 states. The report’s health domain “looks at the percentage of children who lack health insurance, child and teen death rates, low-birth weight babies, and alcohol or drug abuse among teens.” However, while the state fell in overall ranking on health, the data shows we actually improved in each of the four areas measured in the health domain.

In the 25th edition released July 22, the databook uses 16 indicators to rank each state within four domains that represent what children need most to thrive. Pennsylvania now ranks 17th in economic well-being, the same ranking as last year, and 7th in education, up from eighth last year; and 23rd  in the family and community domain, up from 25th last year. Also, Pennsylvania fell in the percentage of children in poverty, which indirectly impacts health status.

“Services for children must be a societal priority,” said Susan Kressly, MD, FAAP,  president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (PA AAP). “The Kids Count Databook provides important measures on where we stand as a state in providing for our most vulnerable citizens. We have much more work to do.”

State House Bill 2204, to improve access to early intervention services for homeless infants and toddlers, is being supported by the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED), PA AAP, and other health care organizations through a recently formed coalition. HB 2204 passed the House unanimously on June 3, 2014, and was considered and approved by the Senate Aging and Youth Committee promptly on June 10. It’s now awaiting consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee.