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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Georgia struggles to maintain gains in child well-being

Screen Shot/Kids Count Data Book 2013
  • Screen Shot/Kids Count Data Book 2013

One out of every four kids in Georgia lives in poverty, though the state's children have shown some improvements in health and education in recent years, according to a new report measuring the well-being of our nation's youth.

Georgia continues to struggle with ensuring positive outcomes for kids when compared with many other parts of the nation. According to the latest Kids Count Data Book - an annual report released by Annie E. Casey Foundation - Georgia dropped behind six other states since 2012, ranking 43 out of 50 and essentially erasing a boon in performance seen last year.

"We've actually improved or held steady in most indicators within our state," Georgia Family Connection Partnership executive director Gaye Smith said in a statement. The GAFCP helped the Casey Foundation collect Georgia-specific data for the report.

"So we are making gains - just not as quickly as the rest of the nation," Smith said.

Compared with 2005, more kids are graduating high school on time, preschool enrollment is up, and overall kids are living healthier lives - though the state did see a slight increase in the number of low birth weights.

A sluggish economy continues to have the biggest negative impact. Compared with four years ago, nearly 25 percent more kids have parents that lack full-time employment. That has contributed to a rise in the number of kids living in poverty, some 26 percent in 2011 - or about 647,000 kids - up from 20 percent just six years earlier.

Nationwide, about 23 percent of kids were living in poverty in 2011, the year for which the latest data is available.

Georgia's ranking is comparable with much of the South. Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi are also among the 10 worst performing states. New Mexico showed the worst results, while New Hampshire topped the list.

Screen_shot_2013-06-27_at_1.17.04_PM.png

The report looks at 16 performance areas including economic well-being, education, family and community, and health to calculate the annual rankings. You can dig through all the national and state-level data online if you so choose, or check out Georgia's profile here.

Screen-shot-2013-06-27-at-1.16-H.jpg
  • Screen Shot/Kids Count Data Book 2013

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