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Guinn Center report finds Nevada’s youth face many challenges

By Kristen Hackbarth

Nearly half of Nevada’s children haven’t had a medical checkup in the past year and many are living in poverty according to a new report released this week by the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities. 

The report looked at demographic data for youth ages 0 to 24 covering a variety of factors. Those include employment, health, substance use and education. This age range comprises nearly a third of the state’s population.

The center noted nearly 25% of rural youth ages 14-18 live in poverty – 10 percentage points more than those living in urban areas. And more than 15% of young adults ages 19-24 live in poverty in the state.

A little more than 50% of Nevada children ages 0 to 17 have had both a medical and dental preventive care visit within the past year. This puts Nevada dead last for youth access to care among all states. One reason, researchers suggested, is that 10% of children ages 14 to 18 are uninsured. The percentage of young adults uninsured is even higher.

The report also backed up what some education critics have said – that Nevada’s educational system is lagging behind the rest of the nation. 

It highlights a 2021 Annie Casey Kids Count Data Book that ranks Nevada 46th for educational outcomes. While high school graduation rates have increased, Latino, Black, American Indian and Alaska Native students still fall below 85% graduation rate. 

Other findings:

  • Youth and young adults ages 12 to 25 have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year at more than twice the rate of adults over 25.
  • Medicaid expansion increased the percent of young adults ages 18 to 25 who accessed mental health care, but that age group still receives care at a rate below the national average.
  • High school students are more likely to try or use alcohol (57%), e-cigarettes (44%) or marijuana (35%) than smoke traditional cigarettes (18%). 
  • The youth labor force – those under age 25 – has experienced unemployment at higher rates than the national average.

Nancy Brune, senior fellow at the Guinn Center and the report’s author, said she hopes organizations in Nevada that work with youth will find the report a good resource. 

“It reveals that while we’re making progress, Nevada’s decision makers and community groups should continue to explore evidence-based programs and interventions that can support youth and help improve outcomes,” she said. 

The full report is available at https://guinncenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Guinn-Center-NV95-Youth-Outcomes-2022.pdf.

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