Graduation rates are up, teen births are on the decline and fewer children are living in poverty — all, at face value, indicate Florida is moving in the right direction.
Yet, while some numbers in the recently released 2019 Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Report show a slight improvement in a few areas, we have substantial work to do. Florida still lags behind much of the nation, ranking 37th in child well-being – a three-point drop in just one year.
This should matter to every Floridian — the factors affecting child health, safety and well-being today drive the societal and economic consequences tomorrow.
Today, one out of every five Florida children lives in poverty — a mere 3 percent improvement since 2010. We must do better.
Not only because it’s the right thing to do for children, but also because it’s the best thing for our economy.
Let’s connect the dots.
Children in poverty are three times more likely to be abused and seven times more likely to endure neglect.
When these threats to safety and well-being trigger involvement in the foster care system, the outcomes for kids immediately plummet.
No matter how positive their experience in foster care may be, the simple fact that they have been removed from their families and placed into care lowers their chances for success. And for those who, sadly, grow up in foster care and exit the system without a family, the future is bleak.
Twenty percent will become homeless. Only 50 percent will be employed by age 24. They’re 10 times more likely to commit a crime.
And they are 75 percent more likely to rely on the government just to meet their basic needs, perpetuating the cycle of dependence on public welfare funding.
That’s a price we all pay.
It doesn’t end there.
Children in poverty also are five times more likely to drop out of high school. Immediately, Florida suffers a loss in the talent pool and, more than likely guarantees another cycle of poverty.
And those who drop out are 63 times more likely to spend time behind bars as an adult.
The cost to society — over and above lost potential: $292,000 per dropout.
That’s why we at Children’s Home Society of Florida remain passionate about delivering the right solutions to change the circumstances — especially for kids living poverty, those who have suffered trauma and those battling mental health challenges.
It’s not enough to try to reach individuals afterlife situations steal their potential and future societal contributions. We must proactively address issues that create the domino effect of destruction.
That means reaching the whole child, the whole family — from cradle to career and beyond.
We’re moving full speed ahead, but we can’t do it alone. We need this entire community to jump on board, to collaborate, to innovate and to fund the solutions that will take Florida from number 37 to number one.
It’s not just our children’s future that depends on it the future of Florida is riding on it.
Originally posted by: TCPalm