Georgia’s children are hurting. How can small business help?

A newly released report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation frames up a crisis today and major business risk for tomorrow. Georgia ranks 38th among the 50 states in overall child well-being, according to the Foundation’s 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Are the children in your community eating plentiful, nutritious meals? Are they secure in their housing and basic needs so they can focus on educational success? 

You might be surprised how many in Georgia are not thriving.

Among their many Georgia metrics in the annual study, it shows that of Georgia households with children, 14% sometimes or often did not have enough food to eat in the past week. And their early indicators for education are worrisome.

The report shows 68% of Georgia’s fourth graders were below proficiency in reading at the end of third grade, a crucial marker in a child’s educational development. In the first three school years, kids learn to read; after third grade, students read to learn other subjects.

Children who reach fourth grade without being able to read proficiently are more likely to drop out of high school, reducing their earnings potential and changes for success, the foundation reports.

Each piece of data illuminates the post-pandemic vulnerabilities facing Georgia children all of which point to major future risks for the health and wellbeing of employees and customers. Finding a way for your business to be part of the solution becomes not only a generous, empathetic response but also critical to long term business viability.

How can your business be part of the solution?

There are many angles Georgia businesses can take to support children’s well-being across educational, economic, social and health outcomes for them, their families and their neighborhoods. 

Founded by Atlanta-based UPS, The Annie E. Casey Foundation offers a broad set of strategies that businesses might choose from. Theirs and others’ include no end of ideas that improve the wellbeing of our children through family and community stability:

  • Early childhood education: Provide material support like books and backpacks; volunteer to increase reading proficiency; support parents to be engaged in their child’s education
  • Employment: Provide training and access to help parents become financially stable and support their families; help remove barriers to employment with updated training and interview skills coaching; run a professional clothing drive; support workers’ access to childcare services
  • Strengthening low-income neighborhoods: Supporting resident leaders to advocate for their neighborhoods’ safe and affordable housing; create shaded sidewalks, playgrounds and other safe spaces for children’s play; volunteer at after-school programs and other youth mentorship
  • Health and hunger: Volunteer at a food bank or summer lunch program for immediate solutions; sponsor nutrition classes and community gardens for long-term access to healthy foods.

Child well-being in a universally easy-to-embrace cause. It is an indicator of community health and, potentially, the future strength of your workforce and local customer base.  As we pull our state out of pandemic impacts, children’s well-being might be a winning target for your company’s generosity.