Kids Count, a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows the District has made strides in 12 of 15 major indicators of child well-being in education, economics, health and community. But researchers say the city has not come far enough.
"Despite some improvement, there are still 31,000 children in D.C. living in poverty," said Gwen Rubinstein, deputy director of D.C. Action for Kids, which helped conduct the research. "Even if the trend is down, that is still not good news."
The study also shows mixed results in education.
From 2005 to 2011, the number of fourth graders who were proficient in reading grew by 9 percent and eight graders proficient in math by 11 percent. But both percentages were lower than every state in the country in 2011, according to Kids Count.
Julia Isaacs, a child and family policy expert at the Urban Institute, said children in D.C. and across the country were hit hard when the economy fell into a recession.
"The recession has had a big impact on kids and is ongoing," she said. "So even with the recession officially ending, it's a lingering impact on children."
But the study did show good news for District kids' health.
The District cut the number of children without insurance in half between 2008 and 2010. The number of children and teen deaths fell by more than one-third between 2005 and 2009.
D.C. Action for Kids plans to release another study in October that will break the numbers down further to show which D.C. neighborhoods are struggling the most.
"We have to recognize that the old ways of doing things are not working," Rubinstein said. "And we have to try to find new, thoughtful approaches that take into account all the factors in a child's and families' lives."