Data tick toward the positive for young Alaskans in 20th anniversary of Kids Count

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

For 20 years, Kids Count Alaska has been an ongoing program at the Institute for Social and Economic Research. It's part of the nationwide KIDS COUNT program, sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, to assess the welfare of children around the country and provide data to support policies for improving children's lives. ISER researchers have taken a preliminary look at trends in Alaska over the past two decades, and found that children here are doing better in several ways.

• Babies are much more likely to survive. In 1993, infant mortality in Alaska was near the national average, at 8.2 deaths per 1,000 births. From 2007 through 2011, Alaska's rate averaged 5.2 deaths per 1,000 births, continuing a long-term decline. • High-school dropout rates are lower. In 1990, the dropout rate among Alaska teenagers 16-19 was 10.6%. Since then the rate has fluctuated, but the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development reports that the dropout rate among high-school students was down to 7% by the 2011-2012 school year. • Rates of violent death among Alaska's teenagers have dropped by nearly half. In the period 1989-1993, teenagers (16-19) died at a rate of 125 per 100,000 from accidents, homicides, or suicides. From 2007 through 2011, that rate averaged 66 per 100,000-still higher than in other states, but a significant improvement.

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Researchers with Kids Count Alaska will be taking a more detailed look at 20-year trends in the well-being of Alaska's children and teenagers in the months to come.


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