July 5, 2023

New Nationwide Report Ranks Pennsylvania 22nd in Child Well-Being

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released its 2023 KIDS COUNT Data Book on state trends in child well-being. The 50-state report ranks Pennsylvania 22nd overall in child well-being, showing declines in major indicators of child health, safety, education, support, and happiness.

About the Kids Count Data Book

Since 1990, the Casey Foundation has ranked states annually on overall child well-being using a selection of indicators. Called the KIDS COUNT index, these indicators capture what children and youth need most to thrive in four domains:

  1. economic well-being,
  2. education,
  3. health, and
  4. family and community.

Each domain has four indicators, for a total of 16. These indicators represent the best available data to measure the status of child well-being at the state and national levels. Indicators include:

Economic Well-Being

  • children in poverty
  • children whose parents lack secure employment
  • children living in households with a high housing cost burden
  • teens not in school and not working


  • young children (ages 3 and 4) not in school
  • fourth-graders not proficient in reading
  • eighth-graders not proficient in math
  • high school students not graduating on time


  • low birth-weight babies
  • children without health insurance
  • children and teen deaths per 100,000
  • children and teens (ages 10-17) overweight or obese

Family and Community

  • children in single-parent families
  • children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma
  • children living in high-poverty areas
  • teen births per 1,000

This year’s Data Book presents a picture of how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted child well-being in the United States.

Foundational Information & Report Context

Importance of Child Care

  • According to one estimate, shortcomings of the child care system cost the U.S. economy $122 billion a year through lost earnings, productivity and tax revenue.

Access & Barriers to Child Care

  • Despite gains in recent years, the United States is still failing to deliver early childhood education to more than half of its children (54%).
  • The National Survey of Children’s Health reports that 13% of children birth to age 5 (2.8 million) had a family member who faced work challenges due to child care. More than half of working parents with infants or toddlers reported having been late to work or leaving early at least once in the previous three months due to child care problems, and almost a quarter (23%) have, at some point, been fired for it.
  • According to an analysis by the advocacy organization Child Care Aware, the average annual cost of care for one child in America
    was $10,600 in 2021—one-tenth of a couple’s average income or more than a third (35%) of a single parent’s income.
  • Child Care Aware also has estimated that center-based infant care costs more per year than in-state tuition at a public university
    in 34 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Child care costs have risen 220% since the publication of the first KIDS COUNT Data Book in 1990, significantly outpacing inflation.

Issues & Inequities Within Child Care

  • Of children eligible for subsidies under federal rules, only 1 in 6 receives them.
  • The shortcomings of the child care system disproportionately affect the financial well-being of women, single parents, parents in poverty, families of color, and immigrant families.
  • Parents tend to need child care earlier in their career when lower salaries match their limited experience. Young parents spend
    an average of 14% of their household income on child care, twice the share the federal government recommends.
  • Researchers estimate women were five to eight times more likely than men to experience negative employment consequences related to caregiving in 2022.

Cost of Providing Child Care

  • Labor costs can account for more than 80% of a child care provider’s expenses.
  • Child care workers make less than workers in 98% of our nation’s other professions, despite the vital role they play in preparing the next generation to thrive.
  • The median pay for child care workers, who typically must hold a range of credentials, was $28,520 per year or $13.71 an hour in
    2022. That’s less than the median pay for:

    • customer service representatives ($18.16),
    • retail sales positions ($14.26), and
    • restaurant jobs ($14) that don’t require the same level of education.
  • Ninety-four percent of child care workers are women; 14% are Black and 4% are Asian, and across all races, 24% described their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino.
  • Staffing shortages have left those within the field “more stressed” (85%) and “exhausted/burnt out” (75%). These shortages were a factor for the more than one-third of owners and operators who said they were considering shutting down.

Key Findings

Nationwide Data

Negative Trends
  • Half of the indicators tracked in the 2023 Data Book worsened since before the pandemic, while four stayed the same, and only four saw improvement. The most recent data available show that fewer parents were economically secure, educational achievement declined, and more children died young than ever before.
  • In 2022, 74% of eighth-graders were not proficient in math, the worst figure in the last two decades. Also, more young children did not attend school, and the percentage of high school students graduating on time stalled.
  • In 2021, the child and teen death rate was 30 deaths per 100,000 children and youths ages 1 to 19, the highest rate seen since 2007, with continued increases in deaths by suicides, homicides, drug overdoses, firearms, and traffic accidents.
Positive Trends
  • The number and percentage of children without health insurance improved between 2019 and 2021. Thus, efforts to expand access to stable and affordable coverage helped children and families.
  • Over the last two years, the teen birth rate improved, a smaller percentage of children lived with parents who lacked a high school diploma and there was improvement in the number of children living in high-poverty communities.
Racial Inequities in Child Well-Being
  • Data suggest that the United States fails to provide American Indian, Black and Latino children with the opportunities and support they
    need to thrive, and to remove the obstacles they encounter disproportionately on the road to adulthood.
  • Nearly all index measures show that children with the same potential are experiencing disparate outcomes by race and ethnicity. A few notable exceptions:
    • Black children were more likely than the national average to be in school as young children and to live in families in which the head of the household has at least a high school diploma.
    • American Indian and Latino kids were more likely to be born at a healthy birth weight.
    • Latino children and teens had a lower death rate than the national average.
  • However:
    • Black children were significantly more likely to live in single-parent families and in poverty.
    • American Indian kids were more than twice as likely to lack health insurance and almost three times as likely to live in neighborhoods with more limited resources than the average child.
    • And Latino children were the most likely to be overweight or obese and live with a head of household who lacked a high school diploma.

State Data

  • New Hampshire ranks first in overall child well-being, followed by Utah and Massachusetts. Mississippi (at 48th place), Louisiana (49th) and New Mexico (50th) are the three lowest-ranked states.
  • States in Appalachia, as well as the Southeast and Southwest (where families have the lowest levels of household income) populate
    the bottom of the overall rankings. In fact, except for Alaska, the 15 lowest-ranked states are in these regions.
  • Although they are not ranked against states, children in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico experienced some of the worst outcomes on many of the indicators the Foundation tracks.

Pennsylvania Data

Negative Trends
  • The number of children whose parents lack secure employment and the number of teens not in school and not working increased over the last two years.
  • Additionally, fewer than half of:
    • young children are in school,
    • fourth-graders are proficient in reading, and
    • eighth-graders are proficient in math.
  • Statistically:
    • 55% (up from 53% in 2016) of 3-4 year olds are not in school.
    • 66% (up from 60% in 2019) of fourth-graders are not proficient at reading.
    • 73% (up from 61% in 2019) of eighth-graders are not proficient in math.
  • More children and teens are:
    • dying,
    • overweight or obese, and
    • in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma.
Positive Trends
  • Though Pennsylvania’s rate of uninsured children is 4% and approximately 126,000 children cannot access affordable, quality health care coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), more Pennsylvania children are insured now than in 2019. Additionally, the percentage of low birth-weight babies is down from 2019.
  • Fewer children are:
    • living in households with a high housing cost burden (25% from 27% in 2019),
    • in single-parent families (34% from 35% in 2019), and
    • living in high-poverty areas (9% from 12% in 2016).
  • Also, fewer teenagers are giving birth (12% from 13% in 2019).
  • Despite significant drops in indicators, Pennsylvania outranked most states in education.

For more detailed Pennsylvania data, view the KIDS COUNT Data Book state profile.

Policy Recommendations

The Annie E. Casey Foundation encourages policymakers to take the following actions:

  • Federal, state and local governments should invest more money in child care.
  • Public and private leaders should work together to improve the infrastructure for home-based child care, beginning by increasing access to startup and expansion capital for new providers.
  • To help young parents, Congress should expand the federal Child Care Access Means Parents in School program, which serves student parents.

Learn More

To learn more, read the full report or visit the Annie E. Casey Foundation website.


Information for this post was taken directly from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2023 KIDS COUNT Data Book. Some text may have been added, paraphrased, or adapted for readability and comprehension.

Related Content & Resources


March 8, 2023

ECE Professionals Invited to Participate in Workplace Well-Being Research Study

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has announced an opportunity for for early childhood education (ECE) professionals to participate in an early access research study – Workplace Well-Being, Powered by Science! – to measure the impact of the Healthy Minds program‘s newest offering.

In 2022, OCDEL partnered with Healthy Minds Innovations, a non-profit organization dedicated to the science of human flourishing, to bring the Healthy Minds@Work app to Pennsylvania ECE professionals.


ECE teams of two or more from each center or program who have not yet used the Healthy Minds app are invited to apply for the research study, which is set to begin in April 2023. Participation details include:

  • Participation in a four-week well-being program, tailored to suit the participant’s needs with short, 3-10 min activities using the latest tools.
  • Three 20- to 30-minute sessions of research activities (surveys and web-based mini-games). These sessions will occur:
    • Upon enrollment
    • Immediately following the four-week Healthy Minds program
    • Three months later
  • Some users will be invited for an optional interview with the Healthy Minds Innovations team.

Participants will also have the chance to receive an gift card.

The Workplace Well-Being, Powered by Science research program is designed to improve the sense of belonging and inclusion; decrease stress and burnout; and reconnect with the individual’s sense of purpose at work.

Healthy Minds Innovations will keep all responses private and share only aggregated findings to improve the program and support other organizations. Participation in the Workplace Well-Being, Powered by Science research program is optional.

A live kick-off event will be announced soon.

For more information on how to participate in the program as an ECE program or center team, visit the PA Keys website or contact Marnie at


December 18, 2020

Families Invited to Complete Online COVID-19 Survey

Do you have an elementary-age child (five to 12 years old) who goes to a public school? If yes, you are invited to participate in an online survey to share your experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.



The purpose of the Children, COVID-19, and its Consequences (the “Triple C”) Project is to analyze how COVID-19 is affecting familial economic and child well-being. Triple C is the first study to provide a comprehensive portrait of the well-being of families and children across multiple cities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Families who complete the survey will receive a $25 electronic Amazon gift card. Researchers may contact survey participants to complete follow-up surveys three months and nine months after the completion of the first survey.

Sign Up To Participate

To sign up, please visit the Triple C study page.

More Information

This research is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh in collaboration with Duke University, University of Washington, and Rutgers University. For questions, text 240.449.9898 or email

For more information, visit the Triple C Project website. Share this flyer with your network.


October 30, 2020

How Educators Can Avoid Mental, Physical, and Emotional Exhaustion

Are you interested in learning strategies to avoid exhaustion and burnout? Join Dr. Tina Boogren and Dr. Timothy Kanold on November 18 for “Attend to Your Well-Being: How Educators Can Avoid Mental, Physical, and Emotional Exhaustion.”


To counter the pressure, stress, and chaos around us, professionals need to practice healthy, practical habits, and routines of wellness and self-care. They also need to rise up to the expectations of taking care of students and their colleagues, amidst the challenges of this unprecedented school season.

In this engaging, fun-filled webinar, Dr. Tina Boogren and Dr. Timothy Kanold will provide practical strategies to avoid exhaustion and burnout and give you the courage and permission to attend to a more balanced and joyful professional life! Time for questions will be provided.


This webinar is best suited for prek-12 teachers, librarians, and school and district leaders. To register, visit the EdWeb website.


September 18, 2020

The Emotional Development of Infants and Toddlers

Are you interested in learning strategies to support infant and toddlers’ emotional development? Join Gryphon House on October 28 for their webinar, “Crying and Laughing: The Emotional Development of Infants and Toddlers.”


During this webinar, Donna Sasse Wittmer, Ph.D. will highlight ten keys that early childhood professionals can use to support infant and toddler emotional development and learning. When these keys are used, they are the foundation for helping children develop emotional competence. This webinar emphasizes the knowledge and skills that enable you to be a compassionate infant and toddler professional who provides the emotional nourishment that young children need and who supports children’s emotional well-being.

This webinar is best suited for pre-k teachers and school leaders. Time for questions will be provided.


To register and learn more, visit the event webpage.


September 2, 2020

COVID-19’s Impact on Early Childhood and ACEs

Are you interested in hearing guidance from experts on early childhood development, adverse childhood experiences, and the impact of COVID-19 on children? Join the NIHCM Foundation on September 10 for their webinar, “Protecting Our Children: COVID-19’s Impact on Early Childhood and ACEs.”


Although most children are not at high risk for contracting COVID-19, the pandemic has disrupted their lives and exacerbated challenges to children’s health and well-being. This webinar will convene experts to provide information and guidance on early childhood development, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and the impact of COVID-19 on children.

Speakers will discuss the following topics:

    • the importance of early childhood experiences in lifelong health and how adversity affects both the developing brain and other physiological systems;
    • what ACEs initiatives are doing to respond to COVID-19 and the opportunities and challenges the pandemic has produced for professionals in the field; and
    • lessons from a health plan’s investment in programming that addresses ACEs, including education on ACEs for teachers, policymakers, and health care professionals.


To learn more and register, visit the event webpage.


June 2, 2020

Parenting in a Pandemic: Help in a Time of Need

Are you interested in learning how children will be impacted by the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic? Join First Up this June and July for their virtual series, “Parenting in a Pandemic: Help in a Time of Need.”


Join First Up for Parenting in a Pandemic: Help in a Time of Need, a three-part series of one-hour informative webinars, where they will answer common questions parents and caregivers have about their children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each session, presented by professionals with early childhood expertise and certificates in trauma-informed practices, will:

    • introduce the concepts of how brains develop and the impact that current events;
    • might have on children from birth through age eight;
    • introduce new ways to think about self-care; and
    • offer strategies for supporting children’s mental well-being.

Participants will be entered in a drawing for special giveaways!

Session Dates

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

More Infomation

For questions, please contact Jillian Best Adler at

Share this flyer with your network. 


May 5, 2020

Managing Mental Health During COVID-19

Join HiMama on May 7 for their HiMama Helps webinar, “Managing Mental Health During COVID-19.”


This online session will cover the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis on well-being, as well as practical strategies to manage mental health. Presenters will discuss the following:

    • the impact of COVID-19 on mental health,
    • why and how to prioritize well-being during this time,
    • practical exercises to do when feeling overwhelmed, and
    • additional tips through a creative Q&A session.


To register and learn more, visit the event webpage.


October 30, 2019

OCDEL Announces New Community Survey


Every five years, states have the opportunity to learn about the well-being of families of young children in local communities. Pennsylvania is asking any individual living in the state to complete this short survey. Through the data collected, Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) will better understand the resources for families living in your community. Survey responses will be used statewide and locally to inform Family Support Services, such as parenting classes and home visiting services.

Hearing from everyone is important! Whether you’re a parent or a provider of family and early childhood services, please complete and share this survey.

Take the OCDEL Community Survey

In English

Please take about five to ten minutes to complete the survey. Your input is critical to informing stakeholders about the factors that may affect the well-being of young children and families in communities across Pennsylvania.

If you wish to complete the OCDEL Community Survey in English, enter the following link into your web browser:

En Español

Le pedimos que pase entre 5 a 10 minutos para contestar la encuesta. Sus aportes son muy importantes para nosotros ya que nos ayudarán a identificar y comprender los factores que pueden afectar la salud dentro de su familia y su comunidad en Pennsylvania.

Si desea completar la encuesta en español, meter el enlace siguiente en su navegador de internet:

More Information

To learn more, read the full announcement.

*Information provided by OCDEL


March 29, 2019

Pittsburgh Spotlight Receives 82 Innovation Submissions

After receiving a total of 82 submissions from southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia schools, museums, libraries, nonprofits, government agencies, and more, HundrED released a full list of the innovative submissions they received.

Submissions included:

  • Innovative approaches from 27 schools and school districts in the Pittsburgh region
  • 9 technology tools to facilitate learning developed by local companies and research projects
  • 8 projects of local colleges and universities, including innovations from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Penn State University
  • 31 programs and approaches from local museums, nonprofits, and community centers

Our Highlight

Listed as a submission, Message from Me (MfM) is an early childhood communications tool developed through the collaborative efforts of the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) CREATE Lab and Trying Together. MfM was designed with the intention to involve families in the education experience and bridge the home-school connection while enhancing a child’s communication skills, independence, and opportunities for interaction. Using the MfM app, a child can record and share daily thoughts and experiences, impacting his or her feelings of individuality, self-confidence, and well-being.

To learn more about MfM’s purpose, design, and impact, visit the HundrEd page.

See the full list of submissions.

What’s Next?

HundrEd’s global research team will be running a rigorous review of all eligible applications, in addition to a review by a local committee consisting of educators, parents, students, researchers, and community stakeholders who will score each innovation to help decide which ones will be featured in the Spotlight collection. Following this review period, the 10 selected innovations will be announced in May as a part of Remake Learning Days, a regional celebration of the future of learning.

About the Pittsburgh Spotlight

HundrED is a not-for-profit organization that researches, highlights, and propels K-12 education innovations in an effort to improve education and inspire a grassroots movement by encouraging pedagogically sound, ambitious inventions to spread across the world. The Pittsburgh Spotlight is one of 6 individual spotlight categories, all centered around specific regions or topics. Through this spotlight, HundrED seeks to highlight educators and innovators in our area that are doing extraordinary things to help students.

*Information provided by HundrED