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Tracking Our Stats on Child Well-being

Basketball season is at its peak, and with the Pacers, Hoosiers, Boilermakers, and high school tournament squads hitting the court, there’s understandably lots of discussion of team and player stats. It’s also the KIDS COUNT® Data Book season – the time each year when we take a deep dive into the data surrounding Indiana’s children and youth.

Indiana Youth Institute’s KIDS COUNT® Data Book provides objective, reliable data and information on the status of Indiana’s children and youth. The 2023 publication, the 29th annual edition, examines indicators in the categories of family and community, economic well-being, education, and health. This year, IYI dives deeper, looking at disaggregated data to provide a detailed and accurate understanding of students’ opportunities and achievement gaps.

Overall, Indiana ranks 28th nationally for child well-being. Consistent with prior years, our highest ranking was in Education (17th), followed by Economic Well-being at 19th. These two rankings are significantly different from our 31st rankings in both Family & Community and Health.

Indiana is home to the 14th largest population of children nationally. With more than 1.59 million children younger than 18 living in our state, almost a quarter (23.6%) of Indiana’s population are children and youth. Indiana’s child population has increased in racial and ethnic diversity over the past ten years. It is more diverse than our adult population, with 30.8% of children under 18 identifying as a race or ethnicity other than white, as compared to 21.5% of adults 18 and over.

Even as we have made progress in many areas, the data challenges us to do more. Indiana can be a great place to grow up – and it is for many kids. But it is not yet a state where all children and youth are safe, healthy, well-educated, and supported on a path to lifelong success. Our kids are letting us know that they need increased access to mental health services, that too many face economic insecurity, and there’s more to do to provide them with access to the skills and education needed to ensure a successful future.

The full 2023 Indiana KIDS COUNT® Data Book, Executive Summary, and County Snapshots are available at iyi.org. A few highlights of this year’s data include:

  1. Mental Health
    1. In 2022, 35.7% of youth felt so sad or hopeless for two or more weeks in a row they stopped doing usual activities, an increase of 7% from 2016.
    2. 27.7% of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, compared to 19.8% in prior years. Of those high school students, 65% of students who seriously considered suicide identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
    3. A positive trend is a slight increase in Indiana’s mental health provider ratio. In 2021, the ratio of people to one mental health provider was 560:1, better than the 586:1 ratio in 2020. Yet it is important to note that many counties in Indiana have extremely low access to mental health providers, especially our rural communities.
  1. Foster Care
    1. the number of children and youth in Indiana’s foster care system has decreased since 2018. According to the Indiana Department of Child Services, 20,658 Hoosier children were in foster care at some point during 2022, a decrease of over 3,000 children compared to 2021.
  1. Child Poverty
    1. Indiana’s child poverty rate is 16% (2021), up nearly 8% from the prior year.
    2. There are significant poverty disparities across racial and ethnic groups. All Indiana youth of color experiencing poverty at a higher rate than the state average. Black children make up 10% of youth ages 5 to 17 but 20.6% of Black children in that age group live in poverty. 8.5% of Multiracial children ages 5 to 17 live in poverty, but comprise 6.7% of the age group population.
  1. Education
    1. The majority (86.6%) of Hoosier high school students graduated on time, and 53.4% of students who complete high school are enrolled in college within one year. The enrollment rates have been declining for the past several years, reflecting a gap between employer needs and available graduates.
    2. In 2021, 45.3% of Indiana college students at a public institution graduated on time, an increase of nearly 1% compared to 2020.
    3. 66.1% completed college within six years, compared to 63.6% in 2020. The rate of students graduating on time has increased by 10.8% in the past five years.


To improve the well-being of our children and youth, we must first understand their current reality. We must know the stats. The data points us to near-endless opportunities for adjustments and action. If we can coordinate our efforts, we can create a state where all our kids have a safe, productive, healthy environment where they can learn, grow and thrive. And that would be a convincing championship win.




About the Indiana YouthInstitute

For over three decades, Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) has supported the youth services field through innovative trainings’, critical data, and capacity-building resources, aiming every effort at increasing the well-being of all children. To learn more about IYI, visitwww.iyi.org, follow us onFacebook orTwitter.