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Idaho State News

Idaho Ranks High in Child Well-Being, But Child Care Costs Concerning

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service Producer

(Public News Service) Idaho ranks fairly high compared to other states in a new report on children’s well-being, but the high cost of child care lurks as a burden for families. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book ranks Idaho 13th overall. The ranking is based on four indicators from 2021: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

Emily Allen, policy associate with Idaho Voices for Children, said the report shows promise for the state, but child care is a big expense for parents.

“What we’re hearing is that they’re strained, especially when it comes to this child care piece,” Allen said. “Child care businesses are very much on the brink. They remain on the brink because they’re one of the few essential industries in America that is not supported and propped up at every level of government.”

And while Idaho does well in its overall ranking, the state ranks 38th in education. Allen added Governor Brad Little is making investments in this area, but the lack of support for early childhood education remains a concern.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said a family’s economic situation is critical for the well-being of children, and added the country made headway on child poverty with the expanded Child Tax Credit during the pandemic.

“It was the largest one-time reduction in child poverty in a single year that we’ve seen,” Boissiere said. “And making permanent the expansion of the Child Tax Credit could have a significant impact on the number of children and families who are living in poverty.”

Allen is curious how Idaho kids will fare without policies like the Child Tax Credit.

“This is a good snapshot in time of what pandemic relief helped keep afloat in a state like ours that had a good economy,” she said. “And what are these rankings going to look like a couple of years out, after these relief dollars expire, if the state doesn’t step in?”