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Florida Police Institute: County Child Well Being Rankings for 2023 Highlight Resource Disparities within Florida

Florida Policy Institute

Florida - Thursday January 4, 2024: The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) has released the 2021 Florida Child Well-Being Index, which provides counties with an overall rank and measures performance across 16 indicators in four major categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

Along the Treasure Coast Martin County ranked 10th statewide, Indian River County ranked 29th, St. Lucie County was ranked 45th, and Okeechobee County was ranked 47th out of Florida's 67 counties.

St. Johns, Lafayette, and Santa Rosa were ranked highest overall for child well-being, while Hamilton, Putnam, and DeSoto were ranked lowest. However, the three counties in the latter group did see reduced rates in the number of uninsured children, lower rates of students not graduating on time, and other improvements prior to COVID-19, according to FPI.

CLICK HERE to view the statewide rankings for every county by clicking on FPI's interactive map.

The index also includes data on child care costs in each county. Specifically, it shows the average cost and share of household income for child care costs for households comprised of two full time working adults making minimum wage and one child.

"These outcomes are not accidental," said Sadaf Knight, CEO of FPI. "This data shows us where opportunity gaps exist within Florida and what policymakers, both local and state, can do to foster shared prosperity for children and families."

Counties with higher rankings tend to be well-resourced places, where families can afford to invest in things like high-quality child care, education, and other opportunities for their children.

Counties that rank near the middle tend to have a mixture of well-resourced and less well-resourced areas, such as some larger counties with a combination of big cities and suburban and rural areas. Counties with lower rankings tend to be places that have borne the brunt of the state’s disinvestment in public services and where people face historic barriers to economic opportunity.

Though Florida has made investments in early education, accessing quality care for young children remains out of reach for many parents. This causes tremendous hardship for families across the state. Child care is among the largest household expenses, costing nearly $9,000on average per child in Florida and rivaling the cost of housing.

These rankings were developed using KIDS COUNT® data to show where more investments can be made. KIDS COUNT is a registered trademark of The Annie E. Casey Foundation in the United States and/or other countries and is used with permission of the Foundation.
“The good news is that by and large, we were seeing gradual improvements along many of the metrics leading up to the pandemic,"

said Norín Dollard, senior policy analyst and KIDS COUNT Director. "It’s on all of us now to build on that foundation and fully invest in Florida kids, particularly in those places that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 and the recession.”

“We look forward to working with our partners and with lawmakers in every region of the state to examine where investments are falling short," said FPI CEO Knight, "and what we can do to fix that.”

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.