Prior to devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires, many child well-being indicators in Oregon showed positive five year trends according to data compiled annually by Our Children Oregon, a statewide advocacy and research nonprofit organization. The 2020 Oregon KIDS COUNT County Data Cards, offer a snapshot of child and family well-being at the state and county level, and represent the 27th year of this report. The data cards feature pre-COVID data for 21 indicators organized across 4 domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
Understanding how Oregon children were faring prior to the COVID-19 pandemic provides an important foundation for rebuilding a stronger, more equitable Oregon as policy and investment decisions are considered in the upcoming legislative session. Nationally, Oregon ranks 25th in child well-being according to the National KIDS COUNT Data Book released by Annie E. Casey Foundation this past summer. In looking to pre-COVID data at the state and county level, outcomes for children and families were uneven; the necessary resources and supports needed to thrive were lacking for too many children. In 2018 approximately one in six (16%) Oregon children were experiencing food insecurity, and in parts of the state food insecurity was as high as nearly 1 in 4 children. It will be important to monitor the impact of COVID on these data.
At the state level, nearly 70% of the indicators featuring 5-year trend data showed improvement, key data findings include:
- The percentage of children in poverty declined over the past 5 years across the state with nearly all counties seeing improvement. In 2018, nearly 1 in 6 Oregon children were in poverty (15.7%) statewide, down from just over 1 in 5 children in 2014 (21.3%).
- More 3 and 4 year-olds were in school, with the percentage of those children not in school statewide having decreased by nearly 7% from 2014 (58.9%) to 2018 (55.1%).
- Just over 7 in 10 (71%) Oregon 2-year-olds were up-to-date on their immunizations in 2019. Half of Oregon’s counties, primarily those situated near the I-5 corridor saw improvement in this indicator over the past 5 years. In 2019, more than three-quarters of 2-year-olds were immunized in Polk, Lane, Washington, and Yamhill counties.
“The gains we did see in the data took the collective effort of Oregonians from all sectors leaning in; working toward a better future for our children. Now we will need to do more to protect these gains and ensure an equitable recovery for all our children,” said Jenifer Wagley, executive director of Our Children Oregon.
We believe that all children deserve safety, health, and the support they need to achieve their full potential, but we know that some communities have not received the resources they deserve. As you dive into these data, consider these questions:
- How do we center racial equity in our decision making?
- How do we ensure families are able to meet their basic needs?
- How do we support community voice in early learning and the continued implementation of the Student Success Act?
- How do we ensure safe access to preventative health care?
- How do we support families to provide safety and resiliency to their children?
Our Children Oregon releases these data cards to inform and launch conversations on the most pressing issues facing children and families across the state, to unite voices in prioritizing children in policy and investment decisions. In the coming weeks, these conversations will deepen with the release of additional data, in concert with the release of a policy report from Annie E. Casey Foundation, focusing on the impact of the pandemic on children and families and a roadmap forward.
Our Children Oregon is part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s network of KIDS COUNT state organizations.
About the Annie E. Casey Foundation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity, and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.