Wisconsin ranks 12th in child welfareWisconsin ranks 12th in an annual study of child welfare carried out by the Annie Casey Foundation.
By: By Gilman Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Wisconsin ranks 12th in an annual study of child welfare carried out by the Annie Casey Foundation.
The ranking is better than last year’s, but child advocates say changes in state health care policies are still a threat to poor families with children.
Last year, Wisconsin ranked 15th overall in the foundation’s annual report. In the child health category, the state actually jumped up from 18th to third. But analysis by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families says that's largely a result of the study finding a drop in the number of teens abusing drugs and alcohol.
The council's Bob Jacobson says the biggest threat to child health in the state is that parents in families just above the poverty line won't qualify for health insurance as a result of changes in the state budget. He says those families are now dependent on the health care exchanges that have yet to be established.
“Those exchanges really were not invented with that sort of population in mind,” Jacobson said. “The idea that those people who are making just a few dollars over the poverty line are going to be able to go in there and be able to afford health insurance in the private market strikes me as pretty unrealistic.”
That's the glass-half-empty analysis of the study's results. Jacobson says the glass-half-full take on the findings is that Wisconsin's ranking in the top 12 states for child welfare is the result of investments in early childhood education and child care that he hopes the state will continue to make.
Despite Jacobson’s warning about negative changes in health insurance for poor families, the study found a 3-percent decrease in the number of poor children who don't have health insurance.