A study of children’s wellbeing shows Delaware improving in some areas, but getting worse in several others.
Delaware’s ranking in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count dropped a few spots again in 2019. The First State is now considered 32nd in the nation for the overall wellbeing of its children, according to the annual study.
The economy for households with children improved in Delaware, along with the rest of the nation, but Delaware has also lost ground in several of the study’s categories—namely children's health.
Janice Barlow is director of Kids Count Delaware at the University of Delaware. She notes the First State continues to struggle with low birth weight births.
“There are groups who are working on this indicator and trying to make progress, but at this point, that one is showing as worse this year,” said Barlow.
9.4 percent of all babies born in Delaware in 2019 had a low birth weight, compared to 8.9 percent in 2010. The national rate is 8.3 percent. Delaware also saw more child and teen deaths and a slightly higher childhood and teen obesity rate in the latest data set.
The data represents a timeline from 2010 leading up to 2019 just before the pandemic. But Barlow notes there is some supplementary 2020 data to give an idea of how the pandemic affected children.
“The pandemic had a drastic impact, especially on households where children were present," said Barlow. "So it has created additional struggle for those already in poverty and it has created struggle for those who weren’t previously in poverty.”
About 16 percent of Delaware children were below the poverty line in 2019. an improvement from 2010 and slightly lower than the national rate.
The supplemental data also showed some metrics could be improving in the wake of the pandemic. While a survey taken during the pandemic shows 14 percent of Delaware families didn't have enough food to eat in the past two weeks, that amount has since gone down a bit to 12 percent.
Delaware scored worse in the study's family and community category. The data shows more children growing up with single parents, more children in families where the head of the household does not have a high school diploma and more children living in high poverty areas.