Frequently Asked Questions

How has Missouri KIDS COUNT changed?
  • We have updated our approach to Missouri KIDS COUNT based on the recommendations of the Indicator Review Committee (experts and other data users with knowledge of current research literature and best practices).
  • We have aligned our domains to be consistent with the national KIDS COUNT domains: Economic Well-being, Health, Family & Community, and Education.
  • We have added new outcome measures and contextual indicators.
  • Counties are still ranked based on their performance on the revised set of outcome indicators. However, revised county composite ranks should not be compared to former county composite ranks due to differences in measurement.
What should I keep in mind when looking at these data?
  • The Missouri KIDS COUNT is a conversation starter. When you interpret the trend on any indicator, try to put the data into the context of what has occurred in your county. Did a local or state law pass that affected child and family well-being in your community? What is the status of state and local programs/initiatives that may affect an outcome or indicator?
  • In addition to things that were happening in your county, the rankings are relative to other counties. Even though your county may have improved on an indicator since the last report, it may not rank as high as it did before because other counties were improving, too.
How do I find the data for my county?

There are several ways to explore data for each county. The following options are available on the navigation bar.

  • Browse Data: users can interactively select measure data for one or more counties, as well as multiple time periods. Users can download these data or display them graphically.
  • Map Data: users can choose any point of measure data in the Missouri KIDS COUNT data library and display a map of how those data points vary across the state.
  • County Indicators: displays printer-friendly snapshots of all indicators in that county, as well as that county's rank on each indicator and the composite county rank.
  • Archives: consists of printer-friendly versions of prior editions of the Missouri KIDS COUNT, as well as downloadable data files.
What is an outcome measure?

Outcome measures refer to the 12 major outcomes that were selected as the primary indicators of child well-being for Missouri KIDS COUNT. Outcome measures are indicators that can be affected by policy decisions. These include the following:

  • Children under 18 in poverty
  • Food insecurity for children
  • Low birthweight infants
  • Preventable hospitalizations for all causes for children under 18
  • Child asthma rates
  • Births to teens
  • Substantiated child abuse/neglect cases
  • Graduation rate
  • Achievement proficiency, 3rd grade English/Language Arts MAP
  • Achievement proficiency, 8th grade English/Language Arts MAP
  • Achievement proficiency, 4th grade Math MAP
What is a contextual indicator?

The contextual indicators describe population characteristics of children and families at a single point in time. These indicators provide context for understanding and prioritizing the outcome indicators. The 39 status indicators used in the Missouri KIDS COUNT are:


  • Total population
  • Child population under 18
  • Child under 18 as percent of total population
  • Child population under 6
  • Children under 6 as percent of total population
  • Minority child population under 18 as percent of child population
  • Minority child population under 6
  • Minority child population under 6 as percent of child population
  • Children in single-parent families
  • Minority children in single-parent families (only available at the state level)
  • Children in married parent families

Economic Well-Being

  • Children in poverty under 6, 6–17 (SAIPE)
  • Housing cost-burdened households
  • ACS family households with children under 18 at 185% of poverty level
  • Children in families receiving SNAP
  • Median income family household with children under 18
  • Adult unemployment
  • Child homelessness as reported to DESE


  • Licensed childcare capacity
  • Accredited child care capacity as % of licensed capacity
  • School attendance, grades K–12

Family and Community

  • Teen unintentional injuries/homicides/suicides
  • Single parent head-of-household with children under 18
  • Juvenile law violation referrals
  • Dropout rate
  • Children entering/reentering state custody


  • Infant mortality
  • Child deaths (1–17)
  • Child deaths (1–14)
  • Child deaths (15–17)
  • Suicide (0–19) (only available at the state level)
  • Unrestrained automobile fatalities for children under 18
  • Substance abuse hospitalizations, ages 1–19
  • Mental/behavioral hospitalizations (not substance abuse), ages 1–19
  • School attendance, grades 9–12

A full description of the status indicators and the data that inform them are available on the Definitions page.

Why were these data selected to be included in the Missouri KIDS COUNT?
Outcomes and indicators were selected by the Advisory Committee, which was convened in late 2015 to provide recommendations for revisions to KIDS COUNT. In order to be included, outcome measures and contextual indicators generally must be available on an annual basis and collected in a consistent manner across counties, allowing for both comparison over time and between counties.
How do I interpret county ranks?

The county rank for an outcome or indicator represents the relative position of a county in the context of all 114 Missouri counties and St. Louis City, with "1" indicating the most positive finding and "115" the worst. There are several things to keep in mind regarding county ranks:

  • By definition, ranks are relative measures; they do not provide information on what levels are optimal for an outcome or indicator. A county might be ranked #10 with respect to graduation rate, but individuals in that county may wish to try to raise the rate for their county even though the relative number of graduates is greater than most counties.
  • Ranks can easily change between years, so we suggest looking at five years' worth of data to get a better idea of how a county is doing over time.
  • Counties that have smaller populations may see greater amounts of change on an indicator from year to year, as compared to counties with larger populations. It's like painting a picture... the more brush strokes (or people) there are, the more realistic the picture is going to look.
  • Rather than focusing on a county's exact rank (or its change from one report to the next), it can be more useful to consider whether a county's rank has changed more than 20%, which is one quintile. This is because there is often very little difference between counties that are ranked more closely together. For the 115 geographies analyzed in Missouri KIDS COUNT, a 20% change in a county's rank would be a change of at least 23 places.
What is the composite county rank?

The composite county rank is based on an index that is made up of the following six outcome measures:

  • Children under 18 in poverty
  • Food insecurity for children
  • Preventable hospitalizations for children
  • Child asthma ER visits
  • Births to teens, ages 15–19
  • Graduation rate

This index provides information on overall child well-being because it combines six outcomes into a single value by converting different units of measurement into a standard unit of measure. All 114 Missouri counties and St. Louis City are given a rank based on their score on the index, with "1" being the rank that represents best overall child well-being.

The other outcome measures are not included due to volatility in measurement (counties with small populations see large changes in their rates) or changes in how the indicator is measured over time (the MAP tests have not remained consistent in the last several years).