Seventeen years ago, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) joined with six other Federal agencies to create the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Formally chartered in April 1997 through Executive Order No. 13045, the Forum's mission is to develop priorities for collecting enhanced data on children and youth, improve the communication of information on the status of children to the policy community and the general public, and produce more complete data on children at the Federal, state, and local levels. Today the Forum, which now has participants from 22 Federal agencies and partners in several private research organizations, fosters coordination, collaboration, and integration of Federal efforts to collect and report data on children and families and calls attention to needs for new data about them.
America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011 is a compendium of indicators depicting both the promises and the challenges confronting our Nation's young people. The report, the 15th in an ongoing series, presents 41 key indicators on important aspects of children's lives. These indicators are drawn from our most reliable statistics, are easily understood by broad audiences, are objectively based on substantial research, are balanced so that no single area of children's lives dominates the report, are measured regularly so that they can be updated to show trends over time, and are representative of large segments of the population rather than one particular group.
This year's report continues to present key indicators in seven domains: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. The report incorporates several modifications that reflect the Forum's efforts to improve its quality and comprehensiveness. In addition to updating data sources and substantively expanding several indicators, the report presents a special feature on adoption.
Each volume of America's Children also spotlights critical data gaps and challenges Federal statistical agencies to do better. Forum agencies are meeting that challenge by working to provide more comprehensive and consistent information on the condition and progress of our Nation's children. Since the last full report was issued in 2009, Forum agencies have continued efforts to strengthen some indicators and to close critical data gaps, particularly in areas such as disability, mental health, and environmental quality. In addition, the Forum's Research and Innovation Committee is examining innovative ways of addressing existing gaps in our systems of collecting, reporting, and disseminating information on children and families.
The value of the America's Children series and the extraordinary cooperation these reports represent reflect the Forum's determination to help better understand the well-being of our children today and what may bring them a better tomorrow. The Forum agencies should be congratulated once again for developing such a comprehensive set of indicators and ensuring they are readily accessible in both content and format. The report is an excellent reflection of the dedication of the Forum agency staff members who assess data needs, strive to make data presentations more consistent, and work together to produce this substantial and important publication. Last but not least, none of this work would be possible without the continued cooperation of millions of American citizens who willingly provide the data that are summarized and analyzed by Federal statistical agencies. We invite you to suggest ways we can enhance this portrait of the Nation's most valuable resource: its children. I applaud the Forum's collaborative efforts in producing this report and hope that our compendium will continue to be useful in your work.
Katherine K. Wallman
Office of Management and Budget