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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Foreword

A baby holding a toy, two children at a playground, and a boy on a swing

Nineteen years ago, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) joined with six other Federal agencies to create the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Formally chartered in April 1997 through Executive Order No. 13045, the Forum's mission is to develop priorities for collecting enhanced data on children and youth, improve the communication of information on the status of children to the policy community and the general public, and produce more complete data on children at the Federal, state, and local levels. Today the Forum, which now has participants from 22 Federal agencies and partners in several private research organizations, fosters coordination, collaboration, and integration of Federal efforts to collect and report data on children and families and calls attention to needs for new data about them.

America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013 is a compendium of indicators depicting both the promises and the challenges confronting our Nation's young people. The report, the 16th in an ongoing series, presents 41 key indicators on important aspects of children's lives. These indicators are drawn from our most reliable statistics, are easily understood by broad audiences, are objectively based on substantial research, are balanced so that no single area of children's lives dominates the report, are measured regularly so that they can be updated to show trends over time, and are representative of large segments of the population rather than one particular group.

The report continues to present key indicators in seven domains: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. This year's report also incorporates several modifications that reflect the Forum's efforts to improve its quality and breadth. In addition to updating data sources and expanding several indicators, the report presents a special feature on children's kindergarten experiences.

Each volume of America's Children also spotlights critical data gaps and challenges Federal statistical agencies to address them. Forum agencies meet that challenge by working to provide more comprehensive and consistent information on the condition and progress of our Nation's children. Since the last full report was issued in 2011, Forum agencies have continued efforts to strengthen indicators by improving measurement of family reading behaviors with young children, by featuring updated lead exposure data using the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reference standard, by displaying U.S. data alongside international data for several education indicators, and by updating diet quality trend data using the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In activities not featured in this volume, the Forum's Research and Innovation Committee continues its work in addressing measurement and data needs in early childhood development, particularly in socioemotional development.

The value of the America's Children series and the extraordinary cooperation that these reports represent reflect the Forum's determination to help better understand the well-being of our children today and what may bring them a better future. The Forum agencies should be congratulated once again for developing such a comprehensive set of indicators and ensuring they are readily accessible in both content and format. The report is an excellent reflection of the dedication of the Forum agency staff members who assess data needs, strive to make data presentations more consistent, and work together to produce this substantial and important publication. Nonetheless, suggestions of ways we can enhance this portrait of children are always welcome.

None of this work would be possible without the continued cooperation of millions of Americans who provide the data that are summarized and analyzed by Federal statistical agencies. This report is, first and foremost, for you and all of the American public. We thank you for your gift, and we hope the volume will continue to be useful to you.

Katherine K. Wallman
Chief Statistician
Office of Management and Budget