Thursday, November 24, 2011

Census & Disability in School Age Children 2010

The 2010 United States Census showed that about 5% of all children who are school age have a disability.  The American Community Survey found that of the nation's 53.9 million schoolchildren ages 5 to 17, about 2.8 million were reported to have a disability in this census. (This excluded children in institutions such as juvenile correctional facilities, group homes for juveniles, and residential schools for people with disabilities.)  If these children were added the number of children with disabilities would increase dramatically.  This is the first time this information has been analyzed.  The numbers that resulted from this analysis were markedly different than the calculations done by the National Center for Education Statistics which uses a broader age range (3-21 years old) and which shows 13% have a disability.  (Info from Ed Week)

Children living outside metro areas show 6.3% have disabilities compared to 5% of children in metropolitan areas.  No matter where you live the disabilities were more likely to be cognitive disabilities. Children in the Census were reported to have a disability if they had trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions.  About 5 percent of children in metro areas across the country were reported to have a disability compared with 6.3 percent of children living outside metro areas. Regardless of where they live, children were more likely to have a cognitive difficulties than other disability types. 

Columbus, Ohio had on the highest child disability rates (7.2%) while San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California had one of the lowest at 2.8%. 

Is the difference in %'s a statistical snafu? Or is it due to the difference in age groups surveyed or that people don't like to report a child as 'disabled?'  As the years go on hopefully we'll find the answers to these questions.  It is critical to know the percentage of disabled young adults who will need transition services in order to accurately plan both state and federal budgets.  If you're a parent who is wary of reporting your child to a census worker as disabled, think again.  It could be effecting the amount of benefits available in your state.

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