Nevada Makes Progress On Kids’ Well-Being; Still In Bottom 5

by Suzanne Potter

A new report shows 73% of Nevada's eighth-graders are not proficient in math, an improvement of 2% over the previous year. (Andy Dean/Adobestock)

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Since 1990, Nevada has seen a massive influx of almost 370,000 children – but the state ranks 46th in the nation for overall child well-being, according to a new report.

Hear an audio report from Suzanne Potter.

The 30th annual Annie E. Casey Kids Count Data Book, released today, looked at the statistics for 2017 on health, education, economic well-being, and family and community, and found while Nevada has made progress, it still has a long way to go. Aaliyah Goodie, data analyst at the Children’s Advocacy Alliance of Nevada, said while the graduation rate has improved, the state still ranks 47th in education – due to insufficient funding at all levels, from preschool all the way on up.

“While we’re getting so many more children within our state, we’re not increasing the resources needed in order to keep their well-being great,” Goodie said.

Nevada has made significant progress since 1990 in getting children insured, but backslid on this latest report – going from 7% uninsured to 8% and leaving 58,000 Nevada kids without health coverage. One bright spot is the teen birth rate, which is at an all-time low, following a nationwide trend.

The report showed Nevada ranks 41st in economic well-being – but that’s actually an improvement, as the state has seen a 14% drop in the rate of kids living in poverty. Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs with the Casey Foundation, said the state needs to focus its efforts on low-income communities of color.

“Educational outcomes are significantly lower for children of color than they are for white children,” Boissiere said. “We see children of color more likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods and to live in poverty overall.”

The report recommended every effort be made to support an accurate count in the 2020 census so Nevada can maximize the federal dollars it receives. Researchers estimate around 68,000 children in the state are at risk of being missed in the 2020 census. Nevada currently receives more than $1 billion a year in federal funding for programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, CHIP and Head Start.