Child Well-Being Index (CWI) 2009 Annual Release and Special Focus Report on Anticipating the Impacts of a 2008-2010 Recession

Author: Kenneth C. Land (Duke University), Foundation for Child Development / May 1, 2009

The FCD Child Well-Being Index (CWI) is an annual comprehensive measure of how children are faring in the United States.  It is based on a composite of 28 Key Indicators of well-being that are grouped into seven Quality-of-Life/Well-Being Domains.

2009 CWI Annual Release

This year's CWI is an updated measure of trends over the 32-year period from 1975 to 2007, with projections for 2008.  Progress in American children's quality of life has fluctuated since 2002, and began to decline in 2008.  Overall well-being peaked in 2002, at 102.07.  This was followed by a decline below the 2002 level in 2003 and 2004.  The CWI then rose by small amounts in the 2005 to 2007 years, reaching an estimated 103.17 in 2007, before declining in 2008.

Special Focus Report, "Anticipating the Impacts of a 2008-2010 Recession"

This is the first-ever report on the impact of the current recession on the overall health, well-being and quality of life of America's children.  It finds that the downturn will virtually undo all progress made in children's economic well-being since 1975.  The significant decrease in this domain will also drag down the other domains of the CWI.  The impact will be especially severe for low-income children of color.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Decline in Social Connectedness
  • Health Declines
  • Decline in Safety
  • Education Declines
  • Rise in Poverty Rate
  • Decline in Family Income

Declining Investments in Education Put America's Children at Risk

FCD has issued the following position statement calling on policymakers at all levels to invest in PreK/early learning programs, and to sustain their gains with high-quality elementary education (PreK-3rd), to make a difference not only in children's educational outcomes, but also in their life prospects.

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