Report: Despite Gains, Hoosier Children's Well-Being A Mixed Bag

Feb 27, 2017

The Indiana Youth Institute released its annual Kids Count data book Monday. The report measures children’s well-being in five categories: family, economics, education, health and safety.

It highlights the well-being of children in preschool through college – and finds a mixed bag. Overall, it finds, Indiana’s children are “surviving, not thriving.”

We took a dive into how Indiana’s students and school systems measure up.

Major takeaways:

  • About one in five (19.8 percent) of Indiana high schoolers has seriously considered suicide.
  • One in five Hoosier kids lives in poverty, with more than half (50.6 percent) of single-mother households living in poverty.
  • One in six families struggles to afford and find child care for their kids.
  • Indiana’s rate of school bullying has dropped below national levels.
  • The number of homeless students decreased for the first time in a decade.
  • Students on state scholarships are succeeding in college.

Child Care And Preschool Issues

The report shows one in six families struggles to afford and find child care for their kids. The state offers vouchers to qualifying families for child care. The number of requests for that has decreased – from 59,000 in 2014 to almost 50,000 in 2015.

State funded preschool for 4- and 5-year-olds continues to be a contentious issue in Indiana, as the legislature and early education organizations continue to battle over a possible funding increase for the state-funded pre-K pilot program.

About One In 20 Students Drops Out Of School

In the class of 2014, about one in 20, or 3,400 students, dropped out before graduating (4.6 percent). Low-income youth are more likely to drop out than their higher-income peers. Nationally, about one in 15 high school students (6.5 percent) drops out before graduation.

The report shows the number of high school dropouts continues to decrease since 2007. At that time, 11 percent of students dropped out before graduating. The numbers do fluctuate slightly from year to year.

State Scholarship Helps Students Succeed In College

The Evan Bayh 21st Century Scholarship program is a state-funded college scholarship that recruits low-income Indiana students in middle school, and keeps them on a college-bound academic track. They receive money for college once they graduate and maintain their place in the program.

The Kids Count report shows that students receiving the scholarship are more likely to graduate high school with an honors diploma and attend college, compared to other students of the same socioeconomic background.

Once in college, most scholarship recipients are on track. About 72 percent have no need to take remedial classes. This success rate is higher than other low-income students without the scholarship.