Tim Morrissey

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin ranks 12th in the nation in overall child well-being, according to the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book just released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Although that’s up one notch from last year, some child advocates are saying the Badger State’s ranking is misleading.

Tamarine Cornelius, research analyst with the Wisconsin Budget Project, says the number-12 ranking gives a very broad perspective on the state.

“What it doesn’t give a picture of is that Wisconsin has these really enormous gaps in the opportunities that children have, due to their race, and we have bigger gaps in opportunities than most other states,” she says.

Cornelius says the positive ranking is mainly due to local, state, and federal policy-makers investing in the well-being of the state’s children and families.

Despite gains in health care in the past year, there are still 46,000 children in Wisconsin who are uninsured. Native American children in Wisconsin are three times as likely to be uninsured, and Latino and African-American children are twice as likely to be uninsured as white children.

The Casey Foundation’s Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy, says there is positive news for the nation, pointing out that 95 percent of U.S. children who are covered by health insurance is a tremendous achievement, which, given budget talks in Washington D.C., may be in jeopardy.

“This is a real success story, and we want to acknowledge the fact that the country has made a significant investment and that we have the highest percentage of kids with health insurance coverage that we’ve ever had as a country, and we want to keep those gains,” Speer explains.

Cornelius says our leaders must look at kids as an investment in our future.

“We need to make investments in our school system to make sure that kids can get an excellent public education,” Cornelius adds. “We need to invest in our health-care system to make sure that kids can see a doctor when they need to. We need to invest in safe, stable and vibrant communities.”

Speer says what the nation has been doing is working.

“The investments that we’ve made in things like the Affordable Care Act have made a difference,” Speer says. “This is a time when policymakers are debating what to do with these programs, and having 95 percent of kids in America with health-insurance coverage is really a good thing, and we need to maintain that investment for the