Report | December 18, 2017

2017 Citizen-Readiness Index

Second annual index shows too many young Americans are unprepared for the workforce, unqualified for military service, or involved in crime


America’s strength depends on workforce-ready, law abiding men and women who are able to defend our nation. Unfortunately, a new report shows the majority of America’s young adults fail to meet at least one of these indicators.

Across the nation, more than three-fourths of the states (38 states) earned a grade of C or worse based on the percentage of young adults who miss the mark.

2017 Citizen Readiness Map

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The new Citizen-Readiness Index shows that, nationwide:

• 12 percent of adults aged 17-24 have been arrested at least once.

• Approximately 1 in 8 young adults aged 16 to 24 are neither employed nor in school.

• More than 70 percent of those between the ages of 17 and 24 cannot qualify for military service due to problems with obesity, education, drug abuse or crime.

The 2017 Citizen-Readiness Index reveals how each of the 50 states ranks in the number of young adults who fail to meet the Citizen-Ready criteria (with Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Tennessee earning a grade of “E” based on collective indicators and Hawaii, Massachusetts and Vermont earning “A”s).

Three Policy Priorities in 2018 to Improve Citizen-Readiness

  1. Ensuring kids are ready-to-learn when they start school: Council for a Strong America is calling on federal and state lawmakers to improve access to high-quality child care and preschool education by supporting Head Start and preschool development grants for states. Research shows the first five years of a child’s life are the most important for brain development, and that all children need to develop pre-literacy and pre-math skills before they start kindergarten so they don’t fall behind in later years.
  2. Keeping kids healthy while they’re in school: CSA urges support for every effort to expand access to health care for children and teens, including mental health coverage so they’re prepared to learn and achieve, as well as efforts to promote healthy school lunches and physical activity in schools.
  3. Strengthening families and communities: Too many young parents are simply unprepared for the challenges of raising kids in safe, nurturing environments. That’s why we need to support voluntary home visiting programs that connect trained mentors and nurses with young and expectant parents, who learn how to deal with stressful child-rearing situations and make their homes safe for kids. Extensive research shows these efforts improve life outcomes for parents and ensure kids are prepared to succeed in school and are less inclined to become involved in crime.


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