Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2003. Indicators Included in the Report

04/01/2003

This report presents a broad and carefully chosen collection of national estimates of child and youth well-being. It reports indicators that have been collected more than once over the past few years so that trends may be shown. Where possible, trends are presented from the 1970s through the year 2002. In a few cases, data for earlier years are also presented, as are projections into the future.

Decisions regarding which indicators to include in the report have been guided by a combination of scientific and practical considerations. In preparation for the first edition of this report, a list of indicators was culled from more than 20 papers presented at a major national conference on indicators of child well-being. At this conference, nationally recognized experts representing a broad spectrum of disciplines and research interests related to child well-being recommended key indicators that should be tracked on a regular basis by the Federal statistical system.

The final list of indicators was modified based on a number of practical considerations that included data availability (the data needed to be available for a nationally representative sample and on a regular basis), timeliness (the estimates had to be available for 1990 or later), and quality and consistency (the data had to be both reliable and consistently measured over time).

Several sections of this report have been revised for the 2003 edition. Two indicators have been combined, “Fertility and Birth Rates” and “Youth Births,” while other indicators have been updated with new sources of data. For example, the indicators “Foreign Born Population,” “Children in Foster Care,” “Child Care,” “Children and Youth with HIV/AIDS,” “Drug Use,” and “Student Computer Use” all have been expanded to present a more complete picture of the lives of children and youth today. Two new indicators, “Average Age of Mothers” and “Children and Youth Served Under the Individuals with Disabilities Act,” have been added to this year’s report. Indicators are removed for reasons such as unavailable timely information. The following indicators have been removed in Trends 2003: “Closeness with Parents” and “Parents’ Activities with Children.”

As part of the data verification process, agencies can, and do, revise information submitted for the most current year as well as information submitted for earlier years. As a result of these revisions, some of the information shown in this report differs from previously published figures.

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