Annual Report Finds Arizona Children Rising to Face Anxiety Depression / Public News Service

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Advocacy groups are sounding the alarm about the welfare of Arizona’s children.

The 2022 Kids Count Data Book, released today, ranks Arizona 44th out of 50 states for the health and well-being of its children. The survey highlights some troubling trends as Arizona children face significant mental health problems and increasing poverty.

Kelley Murphy, vice president for policy at Children’s Action Alliance, Arizona’s Kids Count partner, said while 9% of Arizona’s children suffer from anxiety and depression, the numbers quickly rise when applied to the state’s marginalized communities.

“There are huge, disproportionate differences between all black and brown children and white children and what we see in the data,” Murphy said. “Even in terms of mental health, depression and anxiety levels are significantly higher for our Native American populations than for white children.”

The report ranks Arizona 47th for education, with an increase in three- and four-year-old children who are not in preschool. The study also ranked Arizona 29th for child health, with an increase in child and adolescent deaths and an increase in low birth weight babies.

Murphy noted that the study reinforces the belief that high poverty rates are a direct result of policymakers “deinvesting” in Arizona families. She called on lawmakers to strengthen the state’s backward public education system to lift Arizonans out of poverty.

“One of the most important ways for families to get out of poverty, or for individuals to get out of poverty, is through education,” Murphy claimed. “We really want the K-12 education system in the state to reach all of these families equally and not leave some parts of the state behind.”

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of foreign affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said access to health insurance is one of the best ways to provide children with a high level of health and well-being.

“We know that both the physical and mental health of children is incredibly important,” Boissiere said. “Access to health insurance can provide them with the resources to ensure they are both physically well and have access to the mental health resources they need to be mentally well.”

The annual Kids Count Data Book, published annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranks states based on the overall wellbeing of their children. The scores are based on 16 indicators in four main domains: economic well-being, education, health and community, and family.

Disclosure: The Annie E. Casey Foundation makes contributions to our fund for reporting on children’s issues, criminal justice, early childhood education, education, juvenile justice and welfare reform. If you would like to support public interest messages, click here.

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