Our Approach

Guided by Data

In order to make positive change to community well-being in any given community and across Nebraska, we have to know where we’re starting. Nebraska Children has worked with the state of Nebraska, local public agency leaders, and private organizations to develop 10 community well-being indicators.

These indicators, reported annually and compiled by county, are indisputable statistics provided by the state of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education. Each indicator allows us to identify where a community needs to improve, where they’re performing well, and whether or not a Community Prevention System is moving the needle.

Action Indicators

When Nebraska Children works within a community, the goal is to see changes in these indicators within the first few years of implementing evidence-base strategies and a Community Prevention System.

Infant deaths

A high infant death rate indicates high rates of substance abuse, poor access to prenatal care, and a lack of outreach to at-risk moms to be. Infant death are the deaths of people under one year of age, and the infant death rate is the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Rates are not calculated for counties with less than five events. Source: Nebraska 2013 Vital Statistics Reports

Child abuse and neglect

A high report rate of child abuse and neglect may indicate high rates of substance abuse, prevalence of mental illness, failure of community prevention systems, lack of concrete supports for parents, and a high rate of births to teenagers. Child abuse and neglect substantiated reports are a subset of the total number of reports of child maltreatment that were made in a given year. “Substantiated” means that a determination was made that the incident of maltreatment did occur. “Child maltreatment” is defined by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services as physical, emotional, or sexual harm done to a child from birth to age 17. This harm may occur either through abuse or neglect. The child abuse and neglect substantiated report rate is the number of such reports per 1,000 individuals age 0 to 18 in a given county. Rates are not calculated for counties with less than five events. Source: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (2013) Child Abuse and Neglect: Annual Data

Foster care

A high number of state wards and home removals may indicate substance abuse, prevalent mental illness, lack of social-emotional competence in children, failure of community prevention systems, lack of concrete supports for parents, and a high rate of births to teenagers.This indicator tracks how many children have been removed from their home and placed in foster care.The number we look at takes into account how many children and youth were in out-of-home care on the last day of the previous year. The foster care rate is the number of children and youth in foster care per 1,000 individuals age 0 to 18 in a given county. Rates are not calculated for counties with less than five events. Source: Nebraska Foster Care Review Office 2013 Annual Report.

Reading proficiency

This indicator gives Nebraska Children a sense whether the education of the most at-risk children is being adquately supported within the community. The number proficient reading at third grade is the number of third grade children who tested proficient, and the percent is that number divided by the total number of students tested. Rates are not calculated for counties with less than 10 events.

High-school graduation

A lower-than-average graduation rate for a given community may be a result of poverty, abuse and neglect, substance abuse, poor social-emotional competence, or a failure of community prevention systems. The high school graduation rate is the 4-year cohort graduation rate, by county. Source: Nebraska Department of Education, 4 Year Cohort Graduation Rate (Countywide - Public Districts) 2012-2013.  

Juvenile arrests

A high juvenile arrest rate indicates high risk factors of substance abuse and alcohol use, as well as a failure of community prevention systems to intervene where needed. Juvenile arrests are the number of arrests of individuals under 18. An arrest is counted each time a person is taken into custody or issued a citation or summons. In the case of a juvenile, an arrest is counted when they are merely warned and released without any further action. Rates are not calculated for counties with less than five events. Source: Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

Births to teens

A high rate of teenage parents often leads to less social-emotional competency of children, and higher rates of the other indicators - abuse and neglect, poverty, state wards, dropout rate, infant deaths. Teen births are the number of births to women aged 19 and under, and the percent of teen births is the number of teen births divided by total births for each county. Source: Nebraska 2013 Vital Statiscs Report.

Long-term indicators

These indicators point to larger, systemic issues within a community that may take a generation or more to overcome. Our goal at Nebraska Children is not to immediately move the needle on these (indeed, that would be impossible), but to use these indicators to assess the need and context within the community as we start work on some of the short-term indicators.

Poverty

A high poverty rate indicates a larger than average cohort of families at risk for abuse and neglect, juvenile arrests, infant deaths, high school drop outs, and home removal. It may also indicate poor access to education, transportation, affordable early childhood care environments and jobs that pay a living wage. The percent population below poverty is an estimate of the number of individuals with reported incomes that place them below the poverty line. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009-2013 5-Year American Community Survey, Table, S1701.

Language other than English spoken at home

English as a second language can have an isolating effect on a family, making it more difficult to seek out community supports, secure gainful employment or complete an education. The percent of language other than English spoken at home among population age 5 plus is an estimate of the number of individuals over five years of age who live in a household where the language spoken at home is one other than English. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009-2013 5-Year American Community Survey, Table S1601.

Single parent households

Nebraska Children watches this indicator because higher-than-average populations of single parent households often occur in higher areas of poverty or where other indicators are in play. The percent of children in single parent households are the number of individuals age 0-18 living in a household with either their mother or their father, but not both parents. Source: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Program, 2013 Nebraska Rankings Data

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