FRC News

Kids Count 2014 report highlights children's health

3/6/2014  8:00 am

University of Illinois researchers and community agencies addressed several issues related to children’s health today as part of the statewide launch of the Kids Count 2014 report at the Family Resiliency Center on campus. Produced by Voices for Illinois Children, the report helps parents, community leaders, and policymakers understand and respond to the issues facing children and families.

This year’s report, Child Health Matters, presented statewide data on how well or poorly the state is doing when it comes to such areas as access to care, family environment, special health care needs, and personal and community safety. In addition, the report breaks down the performance of 50 of Illinois’ largest counties on these issues.

Statewide, Illinois has fewer children without health insurance because of the expansion of Medicaid and related programs. Despite the recession, the proportion of Illinois children without health insurance dropped from 6% in 2008 to 3% in 2012.

Other positive statewide trends include: declining infant mortality rates, record low number of children with lead poisoning, and fewer teens dying from accidents, suicides, or homicides.

However, the report also shows some disparities when it comes to children’s health. For example, children from low-income families are less likely to receive comprehensive, coordinated medical care and they are more likely to be overweight or obese. Low-income children are also more likely to experience oral health care problems.

Another area of concern from the report is racial-ethnic disparities when it comes to access to service and quality of care, preventive health care, oral health, and personal safety. Also, 40% of children with special health care needs do not have adequate insurance coverage.

U of I faculty Sharon Donovan, Chuck Hillman, and Sue Schantz spoke at the report launch, describing how their teaching and research impacts children’s health. Awais Vaid, director of planning and research at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, described some of his organization’s prevention and education efforts, and Rebecca Nathanson described how the C-U Safe Routes to School project promotes safety and physical fitness community-wide.