Children who struggle in school have lower graduation rates, lower earnings, higher incarceration rates and even increased health issues over their lifetime. New U.S. Census data show that 39% of Nebraska children ages 0-5 are at risk. The map above shows the at-risk numbers by each Nebraska county and their percentage of all children in that age group in the county.
The overall percentage of children at risk in Nebraska has changed only slightly in the past five years (40% in 2011 compared to 39% in 2016), but individual counties have shown greater fluctuations. Of Nebraska’s 93 counties, nine have shown an increase of at least 10% in children at risk since 2011 and 35 have seen a decrease of at least 10% over the same time period. This highlights the importance of paying attention to the changing demographics within our communities to make sure we are doing everything possible to prepare our children for success in school and life.
First Five Nebraska calculated these at-risk numbers using the recently released 2012-2016 American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is conducted every year and gathers information from a sample of Americans on several topics, including income, employment and housing. As the largest household survey administered by the Census Bureau, the ACS is a valuable tool for examining changes in key characteristics from year to year.
First Five Nebraska uses ACS poverty data to estimate the number of children in Nebraska, ages 0-5, who are at risk. Children living at 185% of the federal poverty level or below are included in the at-risk calculation, representing a household income of $35,405 or less for a family of three. Although poverty is not a perfect indicator of risk of failure in school, many studies have shown the those living in poverty experience more risk factors than those who do not.
We’ve also broken down Nebraska's at-risk numbers by Legislative districts and Congressional districts on our website. Tables accompanying each map allow users to sort the data and compare data across years. Directly above each table is a link to a .PDF of the map that can be downloaded and printed.