Giving Compass' Take:

• The Kids Count Data Book compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation tracks poverty within American children and families state by state and looks at targeted poverty issues while also providing milestones and conditions that need to be met to support impoverished families. 

• How can this guide help local nonprofits in each state understand the poverty cycles in children's' lives? 

• Read about how more than half of the world's children face poverty, conflict, or discrimination. 

As the entrepreneurs, leaders and workers of tomorrow, children are vital to our country’s growth, prosperity and well-being. When children thrive, our nation thrives. That’s why we have produced the KIDS COUNT Data Book every year for nearly three decades: It provides an annual snapshot of how America’s children and families are faring in every state and across the nation.

Current trends highlight notable progress but also areas of concern. Parental employment and wages are up, and a record number of children have health insurance. Teenagers are more likely to graduate high school and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. But child poverty rates remain high and more families live in neighborhoods with a high concentration of poverty.

The indicators tracked by KIDS COUNT® reflect a range of milestones and supportive conditions that young people need to succeed as adults. While all our indicators are important, the child poverty rate demands immediate action given the role that economic hardship plays in nearly every other indicator.

By not prioritizing poverty reduction and by failing to adequately ameliorate its effects when children are young and intervention has the biggest payoff, we waste an unconscionable amount of individual human potential. And the collective toll on our country is enormous.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation urges policymakers to make wise public investments and to take a long view. Understandably, legislators and administrators want expenditures to show immediate returns. But we know it takes sustained investment over time to make meaningful improvements for children and to maintain that progress. We know what to do. Now we need to act.

Read the full article about tracking child poverty and improvement at The Annie E. Casey Foundation