BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Data released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows Idaho's child population is growing significantly faster than the national pace.
Idaho is home to 130,419 more children since 1990, a 42% increase in the child population. The national rate is 15%. There are now 443,792 children in the state and they reflect the state's growing diversity. In 2017, the latest figures available, Latino children represented 18% of Idaho's children, up from 7% in 1990.
The Foundation said the growing numbers will require greater investments to improve Idaho's lagging education outcomes.
"Today's kids will be tomorrow's community leaders, workers and parents. But are we doing better by children compared to a generation ago?" asked Christine Tiddens, Community Outreach Director for Idaho Voices for Children. "While we have stepped up for kids in some areas, we have fallen profoundly short in other ways. Notably, Idaho continues to have significant gaps in educational achievement. The future of our state depends on creating opportunity for every child."
Idaho is one of only four states that does not invest in preschool or school-readiness programs. Only 35% of Idaho's 3 and 4-year-olds are attending preschool. 17% of Hispanic children are enrolled in preschool programs compared to 35% of white children.
According to the new "Kids Count" data, Idaho ranks 11th in economic well-being, 7th in family and community, 23rd in health and 39th in education.
You can see the full "Data Book" here.