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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2012

This year's America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being report continues more than a decade of dedication and collaboration by agencies across the Federal Government to advance our understanding of our Nation's children and what may be needed to bring them a better tomorrow. We hope you find this report useful. The Forum will be releasing its next full report in 2013.

Katherine K. Wallman, Chief Statistician, Office of Management and Budget


Each year since 1997, the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics has published a report on the well-being of children and families. Pending data availability, the Forum updates all 41 indicators annually on its Web site ( and alternates publishing a detailed report, America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, with a summary version that highlights selected indicators. The America's Children series makes Federal data on children and families available in a nontechnical, easy-to-use format in order to stimulate discussion among data providers, policymakers, and the public.

The Forum fosters coordination and integration among 22 Federal agencies that produce or use statistical data on children and families, and seeks to improve Federal data on children and families. The America's Children series provides accessible compendiums of indicators drawn across topics from the most reliable official statistics; it is designed to complement other more specialized, technical, or comprehensive reports produced by various Forum agencies.

Indicators are chosen because they are easy to understand, are based on substantial research connecting them to child well-being, cut across important areas of children's lives, are measured regularly so that they can be updated and show trends over time, and represent large segments of the population, rather than one particular group.

These child well-being indicators span seven domains: Family and Social Environment, Economic Circumstances, Health Care, Physical Environment and Safety, Behavior, Education, and Health. This report reveals that preterm births declined for the fourth straight year and that the adolescent birth rate declined. Average mathematics scores for 4th- and 8th-grade students increased, and the violent crime victimization rate among youth decreased. However, the percentage of children living in poverty increased, and the percentage of children with at least one parent employed full time, year round decreased. New this year is a detailed figure showing the percentage of children in race groups constituting less than 10 percent of the population. This detailed figure, available only online at, supplements Figure 1 in this Brief; the latter uses a wider lens to show the percentage of children by race and Hispanic origin. Readers will also note a revised figure showing the percentages of high school graduates who completed selected coursework (Figure 13 in this Brief). The Brief concludes with a summary table displaying the most recent data for all 41 indicators.

For Further Information

The Forum's Web site ( provides additional information, including:

  • Detailed data, including trend data, for indicators discussed in this Brief as well as other America's Children indicators not discussed here.
  • Data source descriptions and contact information.
  • America's Children reports from 1997 to the present and other Forum reports.
  • Links to Forum agencies, their online data tools, and various international data sources.
  • Forum news and information on the Forum's overall structure and organization.