The 2024 National KIDS COUNT®

Alabama’s overall child well-being ranking climbed to 39th from 45th compared to last year according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2024 KIDS COUNT® Data BookAlabama also improved in rankings within each of the four domains – economic well-being, education, health and family and community factors – measured by the Data Book. New Hampshire and Massachusetts received this year’s top rankings.

The Data Book uses 16 indicators with data from 2019 to 2022 and ranks each state across the four domains. Alabama saw improvements in rankings in seven of the 16 indicators, remained the same in five, and got worse in three (one indicator was not ranked). Alabama improved its ranking in all four family and community domain indicators, two health domain indicators, and one economic well-being domain indicator. Its ranking remained the same in two education domain indicators.

The bright spots for our state in this year’s report are indicators where Alabama’s rate was better than the national average. Those include children living in households with a high housing cost burden (24%), high school students not graduating on time (9%), children without health insurance (3%), and children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma (10%).

In its 35th year of publication, the KIDS COUNT® Data Book focuses on students’ lack of basic reading and math skills, a problem that was decades in the making but brought to light by the focus on learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unprecedented drops in learning from 2019 to 2022 amounted to decades of lost progress. Chronic absence has soared, especially with children living in poverty many of whom are unable to resume their school day routines on a regular basis.

While Alabama’s students, like those in other states, experienced learning loss during the pandemic, the state has been recognized as the only one to exceed pre-pandemic levels of achievement. State education policymakers credit investments in early literacy and numeracy and anticipate that policies including the 2019 Alabama Literacy Act and the 2022 Alabama Numeracy Act will contribute to students’ continued learning improvement. The acts provide local school systems and teachers with additional resources and training to help students struggling to improve math and reading learning.

The state must continue investing in these programs to see continued improvement in learning and test scores statewide.

We are cautiously optimistic...

“We are cautiously optimistic about the gains we are seeing in Alabama’s child well-being data. While we cannot deny that many children and families face significant challenges in our state, we know that with investments in effective programs and family supports and resources, the areas needing attention can also improve.”

— Rhonda Mann, VOICES’ Executive Director