The 2005 FCD Index of Child Well-Being (CWI): Implications for Policymakers
The Child Well-Being Index (CWI) is a national, research-based composite measure that describes how children and young people in the United States have fared since 1975. The Foundation for Child Development (FCD) releases the CWI annually to track changes in child well-being. The CWI examines issues within the following domains: family economic well-being; health; safety/behavioral concerns; educational attainments; community connectedness; social relationships; and emotional/spiritual well-being. The author of this eight-page brief presents the main findings from the 2005 CWI report, with particular focus on trends in safety and risky behavior among young people. Overall, the 2005 CWI shows a mixed picture for young people in the United States. While the findings reveal significant declines in crime, violence and risky behavior, they also show increases in poverty and health status. These trends raise three important questions. First, have changes in specific areas of children's lives (e.g., health, education, economic security, family community and religious life) affected children's overall well-being? Second, what role has public policy played in these developments? And finally, where should policymakers focus future efforts and how should they invest limited resources to improve children's lives? The author considers each of these topics. He concludes the brief with questions for policymakers to consider in light of these findings. Modified Author Abstract.