Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2009 Kids Count Survey - Indiana

The most recent Kids Count Survey by The Annie E Casey Foundation was released on 28 July 2009. It found that Indiana ranks 31st in child well-being based upon 10 indicators. Some significant points are the significantly higher child death rate [10th] and substantial jump in parental termination cases.

Here are the Featured Indicators of the Kids Count Survey
Child Population Under 18 (2007) 1,586,518
Children in Poverty, Age 0-17 (2007) 17.1%
Students Receiving Free Lunches (2008) 31.0%
Low Birthweight Babies (2006) 8.2%
Teen Birth Rate per 1,000 Females Age 15-17 (2006) 20.8
Graduates Passing the GQE (2007) 92.1%
Child Abuse and Neglect Rate per 1,000 Children Under Age 18 (2008) 11.1
Juveniles Committed to the Department of Correction (2008) 1,063

The following data provides a look at the family structure of children in Indiana.

Number of Paternity Cases filed by Year:
2007 - 20,998
2008 - 20,544
This reduction is not statistically significant. The rate of paternity cases has remained consistent around 23% for the past few years.

Non Marital Births
From clinical research we know that children born out-of-wedlock are more likely to suffer various harms including abuse and neglect, incarceration, psychological problems and suicide. The children in Indiana appear to be headed for harsher times as the Non Marital Birth rate continues to climb.

Head of Household Type
Although Indiana is slowing improving custodial arrangements we are still at the national average of 32% of children living in single parent headed households. Some progress has been made in increasing the rate of children living in single parent households headed by fathers but from 2000-2007 that increase was less than 3%.

Single Parent Households
Although the overall rate of single parent families has remained rather consistent from 2000 to 2007 the rate for African Americans is extremely high at 68%. InCRA is committed to reaching out to and working within this community to help remedy this situation.

Termination of Parental Rights
Indiana has made a significant effort to tear families apart and is having great success in doing so. From 1995-2008 the rate jumped 450%. In just the most recent year the rate jumped 39%. We encourage you to connect with FightCPS and Honk for Kids to help put control of raising children back to parents instead of the State.

Actual statistics may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Activists website.

Overall Indiana is not rated well when it comes to terms of child well-being. These statistics provided in the 2009 Kids Count Survey reveal the effects of a policy towards removing parents and particularly fathers from raising children. I continue to work with the Indiana General Assembly to help make Indiana's laws more child friendly. If you would like to help please contact member services at InCRA.

Please read the following Letter to the Editor I submitted to the Indianapolis Star on 05 August 2009.

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Editor - The Indianapolis Star

As someone who is a child advocate and works with the Indiana General Assembly to help make Indiana's laws more child friendly it is no surprise to see Indiana rank 31st in the 2009 Kids Count Survey. Although there are some family dynamics that we can do little to control, there is a much greater ability for us to formulate policies that could benefit children.

Evan Bayh's Responsible Fatherhood Act was recently reintroduced in the US Congress. Legislation like this is a step in the direction that will aide the well-being of children. Bayh makes particular findings in the Act which include; "There is an irrefutable body of evidence demonstrating that father absence is a major contributor to such troubling societal trends as increased teen pregnancy, teen violence, educational under-performance, and drug and alcohol abuse. Children who grow up without a dad are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime. They are more likely to drop out of school, more likely to commit suicide and more likely to become teenage parents. " Yet Indiana still maintains a policy of promoting single parent households.

Next year Hoosier lawmakers will have an opportunity to initiate policies that will benefit our children. Currently Indiana family law court judges order fathers out of their children's lives in about 80% of divorces without providing a reason unless specifically requested to do so. Senator Denis Kruse plans to reintroduce a Shared Parenting bill that will require judges to presume that both parents are fit to continue raising their children together following dissolution and to enter specific findings as to why Shared Parenting is not in the child's best interest if it is not ordered.

The rate of children born out of wedlock is steadily increasing in Indiana. Often times children are born without the fathers being involved or even knowing of the birth. Paternity is only established in about 20,000 of these 35,000+ births. Senator Greg Taylor intends to introduce a bill that would require a father to establish paternity at the time of or prior to birth. If this is not done then the mother would have to name a putative father who would receive notice and opportunity to establish parenthood.

These are just two bills that will aide Hoosier children by promoting the rearing of children in two parents households. The concept of children being raised by both parents still faces a huge hurdle though. Until the federal government reverses its incentive payment program to the states for forcing one parent out of a child's life Hoosier lawmakers are likely to remain addicted to that incentive money to the detriment of our children.

The American Coalition of Fathers and Children has proposed an amendment to Senator Bayh's bill that would change federal policy of providing Social Security money to states to break up families and instead be used to keep both parents involved with their children. Our children are far to valuable to be sold into the potential for destruction simply because lawmakers want to balance a state budget.

Stuart Showalter,
Legislative Liaison
Indiana Shared Parenting
Box 374
Lebanon, IN 46052

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Stuart Showalter

Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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