Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children
Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

In 1990, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Center for the Study of Social Policy published the first KIDS COUNT national data book. It had 52 one-page profiles: one for the nation, one for Washington, D.C., and one each for all 50 states.

The Casey foundation’s thinking was simple: the more people knew about children’s needs, the more they would do to meet these needs. That’s why the foundation had three goals: track children’s well-being over time and across states, provide unbiased data on children’s welfare and focus more attention on children’s issues.

Today, KIDS COUNT is a national and state-by-state effort to track and disseminate data on issues affecting children. The core of the program is the data center, which “features hundreds of indicators with more than four million data points,” according to the foundation. The scope of the data spans the birth-17 age range, and in the case of teen data may go up to age 19.

KIDS COUNT Massachusetts, which is housed at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), is taking the next step by enhancing this effort with a new social media platform.

Today marks the launch of a new Massachusetts KIDS COUNT blog. This group blog  will feature posts from members of the MA KIDS COUNT Advisory Council, a coalition of nonprofit organizations, each with a unique focus on children’s issues. Led by MassBudget, the coalition includes Strategies for Children and more than a dozen other organizations.

The blog is a place to discuss “any and all issues affecting children,” according to MassBudget’s introductory blog post.

“We are excited about the potential that this new blog represents – a conversation about the well-being of children in Massachusetts,” says Nancy Wagman, MassBudget’s KIDS COUNT Project Director. “We’ll be pulling together voices across a wide range of issues: health care, education, child welfare, justice and more. Together, we can share our ideas about how to build a better future for the children of our Commonwealth, and we hope that readers will join the conversation.”

“Having a social media presence is essential for any group or movement addressing children’s issues, and blogs are a great way to get the attention of policymakers, practitioners and thought leaders,” says Carolyn Lyons, president of Strategies for Children. “We strongly encourage Eye on Early Education readers to subscribe to the new KIDS COUNT blog, spread the word and join the conversation.”

To dig deeper into the issues raised on the blog, visit the KIDS COUNT section of the MassBudget website, which features policy and budget briefs. The briefs cover the state budget’s impact on families and children in a range of areas, including public health, housing and homelessness, public higher education, and youth employment.

To learn more about how the state budget specifically impacts children, go to MassBudget’s Children’s Budget section on the website. This innovative tool provides program descriptions and funding trends for every state-funded initiative that impacts children, from pre-k and K-12 to mental health and public benefits.

Armed with 21st century social media and advanced budget analysis tools, Massachusetts can fulfill Casey’s mission of keeping the state and the nation focused on children and on taking action to improve their well-being.