A New Well-being Index for New York State: Ranking Risks Across 62 Counties


January 11, 2021

CCC’s “Child and Family Well-being in New York State: Ranking Risks Across 62 Counties” is a first-of-its-kind analysis of the barriers to well-being children and families face in each county of New York State.

The study examines county-level data across six domains of well-being and reveals that far too many children across New York State experience poverty, housing insecurity, health risks, educational opportunity gaps, and other conditions that challenge their right to thrive and live healthy productive lives. This analysis leverages the most recent data available for all indicators at the county level to provide context of troubling risk factors that existed prior to the pandemic.

According to the analysis, The Bronx stands out as the sole county in the highest risk category overall, as well as in multiple domains (Economic Security, Housing, Education, and Family & Community).  In addition, several counties outside of New York City fall in the moderate risk category for the overall composite index while also falling in the highest risk category for certain domains, including Oswego, Montgomery, Franklin, Chautauqua, Chemung, Yates and Fulton.

Key findings for each domain include:

  • Economic Security
    • A total of 835,815 children statewide live in households below the Federal Poverty Level.
    • In nearly all counties that have child poverty rates above the state average (20.6%), more than 90% of families with children have one or both parents in the labor force.
  • Housing
    • In New York State, 43% of the population are renters, and 27% of these households pay more than half of their income on rent, affecting an estimated 915,370 people.
    • In 26 counties, more than a quarter of households spend more than half of their income on rent.
  • Health
    • The rate of uninsured children is 2.4% statewide, but several counties — including Allegany (8.5%), Seneca (14.4%) and Yates (37.9%) — have double or triple this threshold.
  • Education
    • Only five counties have Math pass rates above about 50%, and only six counties have ELA pass rates above 50%. In three counties — Franklin, Sullivan and Seneca — fewer than 30% of students meet ELA standards.
    • Counties across the state struggle with early education enrollment, with 33 counties having fewer than 50% of 3 and 4-year-olds enrolled.
  • Youth
    • In 25 counties, the percent of teens who are not in school and not in the labor force exceed the New York State average of 4.7%, with six counties exceeding 10% of teens.
    • 21 counties have rates of youth unemployment exceeding the state average of 12%, and some counties (Bronx and Franklin) have youth unemployment rates exceeding 20%.
  • Family and Community
    • In two-thirds of all state counties, the number of children living in single parent households exceeds the national average. These houses face greater challenges to economic stability.

The identification of risk factors like these is ever more critical now as COVID-19, the economic fallout and race-based discrimination are heightening needs and threatening irreparable harm to New York’s children and families. As state leaders make decisions about the 2021 state budget and the long-term plans for pandemic recovery, the report draws attention to risk factors that must be addressed to promote an equitable recovery for children and families across New York State.


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