More Montana children are covered by health insurance according to the latest KIDS COUNT profile. However, the current report has troubling data on child and teen death.
KIDS COUNT is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation that tracks the well-being of children in the United States. Jennifer Calder of Montana KIDS COUNT said the statistics for 2015 are grim.
“For comparison, in Montana we have about 43 deaths, youth deaths, per 100,000 children and Connecticut has the lowest child death rate. They have 15. So we’re almost triple the lowest,” said Calder.
Calder said the KIDS COUNT data looks at preventable deaths. In other words, a death caused by a child riding unrestrained in a vehicle or by suicide.
She said the data found a total of 76 non-medical deaths of Montana children in 2015. “Twenty-nine deaths were because of motor vehicle crashes. So about 38% of child deaths that year were motor vehicle related. And when we look at data on suicide, 18 of those 76 deaths were by suicide,” and that most of those deaths were by firearm.
Calder said those figures are a red flag for Montana and a closer examination of the figures show this is a troubling statistic for Native American youth.
The figure pushed Montana’s overall children’s health ranking to 47th out of the 50 states.
But the news is not all grim. Calder said Montana children have made gains in health insurance coverage and high school graduation. Overall the KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Montana 26th for child well-being.
Wyoming is ranked just behind Montana at 27th. A spokeswoman for the Wyoming Community Foundation said the state’s children have been hurt by a slumping natural resource economy, mandatory budget cuts to health programs, and a high child and teen death rate.
The latest KIDS COUNT Data Book was released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.