By Jerrel Floyd
The Post and Courier – Last year, South Carolina achieved its highest ranking ever in terms of child well-being, placing 38th in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book.
This year, the state’s ranking fell to 39th.
The report looks at how the well-being of American children has changed since 1990; the rankings are compiled using U.S. Census data and other publicly available statistics.
The data points to education and poverty as being some of the key reasons why South Carolina ranks near the bottom.
“This year’s ranking reinforces that there is still a lot of work to do for children and families,” said Sue Williams, CEO of the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.
States are evaluated in several categories, including economics, health, education, family and community. South Carolina ranked 38th in health and economic well-being, 37th in family and community and 42nd in education.
The report highlights that almost one-quarter of children in South Carolina live in poverty. Twelve percent of state children live in high-poverty communities.
In a press release, the Children’s Trust noted the state’s education figures were also troubling. More than 70 percent of South Carolina fourth-graders aren’t meeting reading standards. The state dropped to 44th in this category.
Eighth-graders saw similar percentages in their failure to meet math standards. In this area, the state’s ranking fell from 41st to 43rd in a year.
The Children’s Trust emphasized that while the state improved in many categories, its overall ranking fell because other states made greater improvements. Overall, North Carolina is ranked 33rd, Georgia ranked 38th and Tennessee ranked 36th.
“All of the 74 million kids in our increasingly diverse country have unlimited potential,” said Lisa Hamilton, the Casey Foundation President and CEO. “And we have the data, knowledge and evidence to create the policies that will help them realize it.”
Throughout the years, South Carolina has made progress. In the past 10 years, the state has seen almost a 50 percent reduction in teen pregnancy rates and has improved access to health care for children. The state has also seen improvements in housing, and their parents are more likely to be employed.
To address areas that still need improvement, the South Carolina Child Well-Being Coalition was established. Its members include community leaders, organizations like the Children’s Trust and state and local agencies, and its goal is to find solutions to improve child well-being and alleviate poverty.
“If we want to have a qualified workforce for new industry and a vibrant, healthy economy in the future, the time is now for us to invest in children,” Williams said.
Source: Charleston Post and Courier