November 17, 2021

County Rankings for Child Well-Being Highlight Resource Disparities Within Florida

Think tank says annual rankings make the case for greater investment in affordable health care, safety net programs, and other areas of the budget

ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida Policy Institute (FPI), the state’s KIDS COUNT® partner, today released the 2021 Florida Child Well-Being Index, which provides counties with an overall rank and measures performance across 16 indicators in four major categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

St. Johns, Lafayette, and Santa Rosa were ranked highest overall for child well-being, while Hamilton, Putnam, and DeSoto were ranked lowest. However, the three counties in the latter group did see reduced rates in the number of uninsured children, lower rates of students not graduating on time, and other improvements prior to COVID-19, according to FPI.

"As we mention in the index, these outcomes are not accidental. This data shows us where opportunity gaps exist within Florida and what policymakers, both local and state, can do to foster shared prosperity for children and families,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of FPI. “We look forward to working with our partners and with lawmakers in every region of the state to examine where investments are falling short and what we can do to fix that.”

“Although the 2021 index includes pre-pandemic data, the rankings still provide vital clues as to what direction our state is heading in with respect to the health of children and families,” said Norín Dollard, senior policy analyst and KIDS COUNT director. “The good news is that by and large, we were seeing gradual improvements along many of the metrics leading up to the pandemic. It’s on all of us now to build on that foundation and fully invest in Florida kids, particularly in those places that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 and the recession.”

“Health inequities and the social determinants of health are the factors that will most determine the health of our state’s children and of our next generation of adults,” said R. Lawrence Moss, MD, president and CEO of Nemours Children’s Health. “Strategic investments in the well-being of children yield tremendous returns. Nemours is committed to delivering superb medical care and also to improving the conditions in which every child lives.”

The rankings were developed using KIDS COUNT data. FPI noted that counties with higher rankings are generally well-resourced places, where families can afford to invest in things like high-quality child care, education, and other opportunities for their children. Counties with lower rankings, according to FPI, are regions that have borne the brunt of the state’s disinvestment in public services and where people face historic barriers to economic opportunity. 

KIDS COUNT is a registered trademark of The Annie E. Casey Foundation in the United States and/or other countries and is used with permission of the Foundation.

FPI is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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