The dashboard in a car tells us how far we’ve gone (the odometer), what our current situation is (the speedometer) and, in eco-conscious vehicles, how to achieve greater energy efficiency. Similarly, a focus on where we’ve been, where we are now, and how to achieve future improvement guided the creation of the new KIDS COUNT Data Dashboard, which was unveiled with the release of the 2017 County Data Book earlier this month.

By providing the most recent data alongside data from approximately five years prior for 17 key indicators of child well-being, the state-level KIDS COUNT Data Dashboard and supplemental County Profiles enable us to quickly see where we’ve made recent progress versus where we’re moving backwards on child well-being. Additionally, we provide an incremental goal to work toward by estimating for each measure how many children would be impacted if the state or a county improved by 10 percent in the future.

As with all data, we suspect these data dashboards will provoke more questions than provide answers. Users can ask themselves, and perhaps their elected officials:

  • Should we be content with the progress portrayed, even if the improvements are slight or slow-going?
  • What can we do to keep moving forward and accelerate the gains? And in the areas where things have worsened, what can we do to reverse course?
  • What is a feasible timetable for achieving a 10 percent improvement for a measure?
  • What can local governments, school districts, civic leaders, and child advocates do to achieve such incremental targets in the absence of state policy and funding changes?

We hope the KIDS COUNT Data Dashboard and County Profiles spur these conversations and galvanize local and statewide efforts to improve the lives of children and families in the Commonwealth. Please share with us your ideas for making progress in your community or the state at-large.