Filed Under:  Local, News

Website shows key data on Louisiana’s children

15th October 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Mason Harrison
Contributing Writer

Various state agencies have joined forces to create an online source of information for parents and child welfare advocates on the health, well-being and educational outcomes for the state’s juvenile population. The website – found at www.kidsdashboard.la.gov – is a project of the state’s Children’s Cabinet and features data from Louisiana’s juvenile justice, education, hospital, and family services agencies.

The site covers three areas of child welfare – education, health care and overall well-being. Most of the state’s benchmarks presented on the site for childhood success have either been met or have been surpassed, including the number of teenagers who have received required vaccinations; the number of children who enter kindergarten “ready to learn;” and reducing the amount of repeat child abuse claims.

The site culls data from the various agencies that feed information into the state-level advisory board tasked with overseeing how Louisiana policies affect its youngest residents. The Children’s Cabinet was created in 1998 to help improve the state’s low national standing on child health and educational outcomes.

“The Children’s Cabinet,” according to data about the project, “has developed this site as a resource to show where Louisiana stands on important child well-being indicators and what you can do to help make things better.

From community leaders and stakeholders, to service providers and parents, the Louisiana Kids’ Dashboard is an amazing resource that serves as the starting point for us all to join together and improve the lives of children in our State.”

The site also provides quarter-by-quarter statistical data going back to 2010 on a range of measures, including the number of low-weight births in the state; asthma-related hospitalizations; the number of child support collections; and the amount of time state youths spend in placements outside of their homes.

The information depicted on the site includes baseline figures for the data collected; current performance data; and the state’s target objectives in the 17 areas surveyed. One area that has remained stagnant in Louisiana is the number of children living in poverty. While the government’s goal has been to reduce the number of youths living in low-income households to 21 percent, currently 27 percent of residents under age 18 live in a family of four with an income less than $22,000 a year. That figure was the same in 2010.

Louisiana also lags behind in meeting its goal to immunize 90 percent of the state’s infants who are 19 to 35 months old. In 2010, 81 percent of these infants received vaccinations, but current numbers have fallen to just over 80 percent. “Vaccinations are a necessity for infants,” information on the site notes, adding, “getting these shots can make sure your child does not get sick from a variety of preventable diseases.” Links to information about the nature of vaccines are provided for parents and other stakeholders to view.

The site also allows visitors to post comments about the data available, examine the reporting mechanisms used by state agencies and download charts and other figures on the information about the 17 performance areas.

This article was originally published in the October 15, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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