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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Georgia boosts rank in annual Kids Count report


The bad news? Compared with the rest of the nation, Georgia still ranks in the bottom rung (along with most of the South) when it comes to overall child well-being according to the 2012 Kids Count Data Book, an annual state-by-state report looking at a number of factors that contribute to the well-being kids and families.

The good news? Georgia made a pretty substantial leap in the overall rankings, from 42 out of 50 states in 2011, to 37 this year. In fact, that’s our highest ranking ever since the Annie E. Casey Foundation started releasing these reports 23 years ago.

Ok, pulling 37 out of 50 doesn’t quite call for a bottle of bubbly to celebrate, but considering we’ve been stuck in slot 42 for three years running it’s definitely not a bad thing.

The state saw its highest marks in the "health" category with decreases in child and teen deaths by nearly 25 percent, and a drop of nearly 15 percent in the number of teens abusing drugs and alcohol between 2005 and 2009.

Our edu-ma-cation got better, too. Some 16 percent more kids graduated high school on time in 2009 compared with 2005, the years the report analyzed for this particular indicator.

But Georgia continued to slide in the "economic well-being" performance area, in large part mirroring trends seen across the country. While the nation as a whole witnessed substantial improvements in children well-being since the first report was released in 1990, the recent recession has wiped out many of the economic gains kids have seen since the late 1990s.

A quarter of kids in the state live in poverty, according to the report, and 34 percent of parents lack secure employment.

This year the report looked at 16 performance areas to evaluate state’s and national rankings, grouping them into four "key indicators" to help make sense of it all: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. In years past, the Casey Foundation looked at just 10 areas, making direct comparisons for some data problematic.

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The full report is available online, along with state-by-state breakdowns (Georgia’s here), and even county-level data to see how things are going in your neck of the woods.

Plus, here's a little infographic from the report to get things going:

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