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How are Indiana’s kids? Fewer youth are in foster care, but more considered suicide

By Darian Benson, IPB News | Published on in Family Issues, Health, Statewide News, Technology
(Photo: Jens Rost / Flickr)
Indiana ranks 28th nationally in child well-being, according to the Indiana Youth Institute’s 2023 Kids Count Data Book.  The annual report looks at data on family and community, health, education, and the economy.

One highlight of the report is a 40 percent decrease since 2018 in the number of kids in foster care.

This year’s report was the first to look at access to technology – like computers and the internet – seeing a slight improvement from 2020 to 2021. Indiana Youth Institute’s Ashley Haynes said better access to technology will hopefully mean an increase in telehealth services.

“As those services continue to grow, we’ll continue to increase the access that kids and families have to health care, particularly if they live in areas of the state where there are tremendous shortages of health care,” Haynes said.

The majority of Hoosiers live in an area with a provider shortage. About half of parents whose children did not receive preventive care said they had trouble getting an appointment.

“Indiana adults and children are experiencing a shortage in accessing the necessary health care,” Haynes said, “whether that is medical providers, whether it’s dentists, whether that’s mental health providers.”

The report also shows high rates of obesity, shortages in child care and an increase in students seriously considering suicide.

Children reported increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression. The report shows many children in the state did not receive mental health services in 2020, in part because there aren’t enough mental health resources. In 2021, there was one mental health provider for every 558 Hooisers. This is a slight improvement, from 594 people for every provider in 2020.

The percentage of high school students who seriously considered attempting suicide increased to 27.7 percent in 2021 compared to 19.8 percent in 2015. Of those students, 65 percent identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. The percentage of students who attempted suicide also increased since 2015, from 9.9 percent to 11.8 percent.

The majority of high school students graduated in 2022, at 86.6 percent, but this is a slight decrease from 86.7 percent in 2021. During the 2021-2022 school year, Indiana retained about 89 percent of its teachers — an increase from nearly 87 percent the previous school year. However, 79 or the state’s 92 counties had a teacher retention rate lower than the state’s average.

Contact WFYI health reporter Darian Benson at dbenson@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @HelloImDarian