Report: Health Disparities Persist in Illinois Children

A new Voices for Illinois Children report, “2020 Illinois KIDS COUNT Report Indicators of Child Well-Being: Social Determinants of Health,” shows significant disparities by race and ethnicity in infant mortality, birth weight, blood lead levels and emergency room asthma visits among other health indicators. The report also looks at social determinants, such as housing, education levels, household and family incomes, and transportation, and their impact on Illinois children’s health.

Among the report’s findings:

  • About 30,000 more Illinois children were uninsured in 2018 compared with 2016;   
  • The uninsured rate is 3.9% for Black children, 4.4% for Latinx children, and 2.7% for white children;   
  • Infant mortality among Black infants is two times the state rate;   
  • Blood lead levels are at the highest among Black children; and   
  • More than 450,000 Illinois children live in poverty.

“The coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd have refocused a light on the stark health and economic disparities that exist in our country depending on one’s race or ethnicity,” says Tasha Green Cruzat, Executive Director, Voices for Illinois Children. “We began writing this report months before the worldwide pandemic and protests across the world. In some respects, it is discouraging to see that many of the differences illustrated in this report have existed for years—in some cases, decades. However, this point in time should also provide us with renewed energy to tackle these disparities. Every person in our state, and particularly every child, needs to be treated with respect and dignity. Eliminating systemic racism, removing obstacles to opportunity, and providing our communities with the necessary resources are key to this effort. No child should be denied the chance for a healthy and successful life.”

The Illinois report was released in conjunction with the national 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Data Book looks at 16 indicators of child well-being, showing Illinois' overall national ranking dropped from 23rd to 24th.