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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2021

Foreword

A group of children laughing in the woods

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (Forum) is a wonderful example of how Federal agencies can increase the effectiveness, efficiency, and accessibility of the government by working across agency boundaries to collaborate and innovate. The Forum was chartered in April 1997 through Executive Order No. 13045. It has since been successfully bringing together (from a very decentralized system) high-quality information that the public and policymakers can easily access and understand about our Nation's children and youth. Working together, Federal agencies are able to set priorities on what information to collect; develop new methods for collecting such information; 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.

America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2021, is a compendium of indicators about our Nation's young people. The report, the 24th produced by the Forum, presents 41 key indicators on important aspects of children's lives. These indicators are drawn from our most reliable Federal 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 often 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. To ensure that the information stays relevant, the Forum periodically revises indicators, data sources, and features to maintain the relevance of the report.

Although this report is published in 2021, the year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, the statistics are based on the most recent data available at the time of the publication of report, the majority of which were collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many of the data collection systems that provide information for America's Children indicators have adapted to accommodate the emerging information needs related to the pandemic, COVID-19–related data were not available for inclusion in this report. Although children and adolescents have not experienced severe COVID-19 illness and mortality to the same degree as older adults, data through spring 2021 indicate that this has become a vulnerable group for COVID-19 illness with weekly cases among children and adolescents ages 6–17 surpassing adults age 65 and over starting in March 2021.1 In addition, COVID-19 has had a major impact on child and adolescent education, with nearly a universal shift to long-term virtual learning across the United States, and on other facets of children's and adolescents' well-being.

Each volume of America's Children also spotlights critical data gaps identified by the Forum's Planning Committee and its Federal statistical agencies. Starting with the 2017 report, such data concerns, related to understanding the condition and progress of our Nation's children, were consolidated into a stand-alone Data Topics report section, rather than included as Indicators Needed at the end of each report domain.

The value of the America's Children series and the extraordinary cooperation that these reports represent reflect the Forum's determination to work together effectively to help our Nation 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 that 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 present relevant statistics in an easy-to-use format, and work together to produce this substantial and important publication. Of course, suggestions of ways we can enhance this volume are always welcome.

No work of this magnitude and quality would be possible without the continued cooperation of the 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 the entire American public. We thank you for your support and important contributions, and we hope the volume will continue to be useful to you.

Office of the Chief Statistician
U.S. Office of Management and Budget

1 CDC COVID Data Tracker. COVID-19 Weekly Cases and Deaths per 100,000 Population by Age, Race/Ethnicity, and Sex. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#demographicsovertime