Child Well-Being Index (CWI) 2009 Annual Release and Special Focus Report on Anticipating the Impacts of a 2008-2010 Recession

The Foundation for Child Development’s Child Well-Being Index (CWI) is an annual comprehensive measure of how children are faring in the United States. It is based on a composite of 28 Key Indicators of well-being that are grouped into seven Quality-of-Life/Well-Being Domains.

2009 CWI Annual Release

This year’s CWI is an updated measure of trends over the 32-year period from 1975 to 2007, with projections for 2008.  Progress in American children’s quality of life has fluctuated since 2002, and began to decline in 2008. Overall well-being peaked in 2002, at 102.07. This was followed by a decline below the 2002 level in 2003 and 2004. The CWI then rose by small amounts in the 2005 to 2007 years, reaching an estimated 103.17 in 2007, before declining in 2008.

Special Focus Report, Anticipating the Impacts of a 2008-2010 Recession

This is the first-ever report on the impact of the current recession on the overall health, well-being and quality of life of America’s children. It finds that the downturn will virtually undo all progress made in children’s economic well-being since 1975. The significant decrease in this domain will also drag down the other domains of the CWI.  The impact will be especially severe for low-income children of color.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Decline in Social Connectedness
  • Health Declines
  • Decline in Safety
  • Education Declines
  • Rise in Poverty Rate
  • Decline in Family Income

Declining Investments in Education Put America’s Children at Risk

The Foundation has issued the following position statement calling on policymakers at all levels to invest in PreK/early learning programs, and to sustain their gains with high-quality elementary education (PreK-3rd), to make a difference not only in children’s educational outcomes, but also in their life prospects.

Media Coverage

News Articles

  • Examiner​.com (Buffalo): Are your children at risk for recession obesity?
  • Education Week Report Roundup: Child Well-Being
  • Reuters: Recession threatens U.S. progress in child wellbeing
    • Outlets picking up the Reuters article include: 
      • Forbes
      • Yahoo! News (third largest news site after MSNBC and CNN)
      • Reuters India
      • Reuters UK
      • The Post Chronicle
      • National Post (Canada)
      • Macon Daily (GA)
      • The US Daily (CA)
      • Six National Public Radio sites (print)
      • Congressional Quarterly
      • Cookie Magazine Blog Mom Wire 
      • Mental Health in the Headlines
      • Tehran Times (Iran) 
      • Thanh Nien Daily (Vietnam) 
      • Alibaba News Channel
      • Early Childhood Focus
      • One Penny Sheet Blog 
      • Look at Vietnam Blog
      • Boom 2 Bust Blog
  • CBS News (online): Recession May Have Lasting Impact On Kids
    • Outlets picking up the CBS News article:
      • Citizens for Excellence in Early Education Blog
      • Hillbilly Report, Progressives in Rural America Blog
  • The Denver Examiner: U.S. Recession Might Impact Kids the Hardest, Report Says
  • Tulsa World: As families struggle, kids at risk, study shows
  • Inter Press Service (Rome): ECONOMY-US: One in Five Children Sinking Into Poverty
  • AsiaOne (Singapore): Child well-being slumps along with US economy
  • AlterNet (Agence France Presse): US kids at risk of ‘recession obesity’: report
  • Open Left: Child Well-Being Index Foretells Hard Time For Kids
  • Vote Kids, A Journal of Children’s Issues and Politics: Recession Threatens U.S Progress in Child Wellbeing
  • News Updated Frequently​.com: Child well being in the U.S. at same level as in 1975
  • ClickCrosby​.com (Crosby, Texas): Children Hit Hard by Recession


  • New York Times Economix (by FCD Board Member, Nancy Folbre)
  • CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s AC 360 
    • The Huffington Post picked up the AC 360° post
  • National Public Radio Planet Money
  • The Atlantic Daily Dish
  • Wowowow (The Women on the Web): Diamonds in the Rough: Kids Are Getting $mart About Money!
  • Nutrition Business Journal: Will the Recession Really Force Kids to Eat More HoHos and Big Macs?
  • Talking Points Memo My TPM Blog
  • Baby Center’s Momformation: The recessions impact on kids
  • Episcopal Café Blog: Poor kids hurt worst by economic downturn


  • CBS Morning Show (Peoria, IL)
  • CBS Evening News (Denver, CO)
  • NBC Evening News (Little Rock, AR)


One thousand one hundred forty-one radio stations broadcast an audio news release, for a total of 2,021 airings.