For the first time, the newest edition of Measures of Child Well-Being in Utah by Voices for Utah Children includes data by race and ethnicity. The data show that the Utah child population is growing and diversifying.
The child population grew by about 45,000 additional children (2006-2013 average versus 2010-2014 average)
The Utah child population is more diverse than Utah’s adult population. In 2015, one of every four Utah children was a child of color.
Minority populations continue to grow in Utah. It is projected that about half of Utah children will be children of color by 2050.
Measures of Child Well-Being in Utah reports concerning changes in child death rates but continued improvement in the teen birth rate.
There was a steep rise in youth suicide in Utah. Between 2013 and 2014, the suicide rate among Utah 10-19-year-olds jumped from 9.4/100,000 to 12.6/100,000.
After a few years of steady decline, injury deaths are on the rise again, from 12.2/100,000 Utah children ages 0-19 in 2013 to 15.4/100,000 in 2014.
The teen birth rate continues to decline, from 8.6 births per 1,000 Utah females ages 15-17 in 2009-2013 to 7.9 in 2010-2014.
“We want policymakers to make sure every child in Utah has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Some children in our state are hampered by poverty, poor health, and by starting school already behind their peers,” said Terry Haven, Deputy Director of Voices for Utah Children. She went on to explain that “most of the at-risk children in Utah are white, but children of color are overrepresented in terms of percentages.”
Haven cited poverty rates as an example. There were 56,000 non-Hispanic white children living in poverty in Utah in 2014, more than any other race or ethnicity. But that represented only 8% of white children. In contrast, 31% of Hispanic children lived in poverty. Those 47,000 children, while fewer in number than their white counterparts, were disproportionately represented in the data, indicating high risk for poverty among Hispanic Utah children.
Here are some other examples of racial/ethnic disparities listed in the report:
While about half of Utah children of white or Asian race tested as proficient in language arts, math and science during the 2015-16 school year, only about one in four of Utah children of other races tested as proficient.
Pregnant women of color were about three times as likely to go without early prenatal care as non-Hispanic White women in 2014.
Measures of Child Well-Being in Utah includes data by county, making it a useful resource for local policymakers.
“I hope that policymakers will use the new data to take action,” said Haven. “We need to make sure all Utah children have the opportunities that we would want for our own children. No child’s dreams should be limited by inequalities in our state.”
Data for the report were collected as part of the KIDS COUNT® project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.