South Dakota ranks 14 in child well-being. That's up from last year according to the annual Kids Count survey. One expert suggests improvements in areas that the state is lagging behind.
Like other Midwest states, South Dakota ranks high in overall measures released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to compare well-being across states over time. The survey looks at areas of economy, education, health and community.
Carol Cochran is the project director of South Dakota Kids Count. She says the state’s lowest rankings are in young children education and the child and teen death rate. To improve current trends of premature death, mainly caused through auto accidents, Cochran wants lawmakers to make stricter laws for distracted driving and adopt graduated driver’s licensing.
“You can get your driver’s license at 14 years in 3 months, if we just put that to 14 years in 9 months, a student can get more variety behind the wheel, more variety in terms of the conditions for driving, I think that would help because I think research has shown that its time behind the wheel that helps you become a good driver," says Cochran.
Cochran also suggests preschool initiatives for the state. But in all areas, Cochran says the Kids Count information is important for people to consider moving forward in creating a healthy environment for children.
“We can look at maybe what some of that 2015 data is going to show and see where we can target funding, maybe look at some tweaking of laws in the state and maybe looking at tweaking at programs because once we do that, we can again look over time to make sure we are going in the right direction for children and families," says Cochran.
Cochran says by focusing on specific areas of concern, she sees the state earning a higher rank in coming years.