New KIDS COUNT Report Shows Georgia Must Do Better for Its Children in PovertyPrint This Post
This State is Poised to Climb Out of the Bottom 10
According to the 2011 national KIDS COUNT Data Book released today by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Georgia held onto a national ranking of 42nd in critical indicators of child well-being for the third straight year.
Georgia hasn’t dropped in overall ranking, but still hasn’t gathered the momentum it needs to break out of the bottom 10 states, either.
Trends from 2000 show that even though Georgia improved on five of 10 measures that affect child well-being, this state continues to trail behind the national average on all measures, and is among the bottom 10 states in low-birthweight babies (46th), teens not in school and not working (45th), infant mortality rate (42nd), and children living in single-parent families (41st).
Nearly 570,000 children in Georgia live below the federal poverty line of $21,756 for a family of four. That’s a 22-percent increase in the state poverty rate between 2000 and 2009.
In an ongoing effort to track the impact of the recession, the 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book features two new indicators—children affected by foreclosure and children with at least one unemployed parent. In Georgia, home foreclosures disrupted the lives of 205,000 children since 2007—the 5th highest rate in the nation. Children living in metro Atlanta counties were hit the hardest. In 2010, an estimated 300,000 children in this state lived in families with at least one unemployed parent.
“The recession has created terrible conditions for poor children” said Steve Suitts, Vice President of Southern Education Foundation. “Because of the decline of income and support that both families and schools have endured in the past few years, poor children are among the first to suffer the consequences. We must do better.”
Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) Executive Director Gaye Smith agrees, but is quick to point out that the blame does not entirely lie with the recession, because economic and social conditions for children in Georgia were critical before the economic downturn began.
“We can’t ignore the persistent poverty we’ve seen in Georgia across generations,” said Smith. “Unless we reverse this trend—now—our legacy will be another generation steeped in educational failure and poor health. We at GaFCP believe we can climb out of the bottom 10 states if we wipe out word poverty by improving childhood literacy, and if we eliminate food deserts across the state by improving access to healthy food.”
GaFCP has teamed up with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and its state and local partners in education and human services in a 10-year commitment to improve grade-level reading. The goal is to ensure that children are reading on grade level by third grade. Good readers are more likely to graduate from high school on time, enter the workforce equipped with the necessary skills to succeed, and go on to productive careers. GaFCP also is expanding community resources and supports statewide through its Georgia Family Connection network, celebrating 20 years of county-level collaboration for children and families this year.
According to a recent study, Food for Every Child: The Need for More Supermarkets in Georgia, nearly 500,000 children live in lower-income communities underserved by supermarkets. GaFCP, the Georgia Food Industry Association and the Food Trust have formed a Georgia Supermarket Access Task Force to improve the health of children and communities by identifying and promoting public policy recommendations to encourage the development of supermarkets and other fresh-food retailers in neighborhoods with disproportionately high numbers of lower-income residents without access to healthy food.
“Georgia has the potential to shatter barriers of poverty, and racial and economic disparity that have kept us at the bottom for too long,” said Smith. We must ensure that all children are healthy and succeed in school, and that every Georgian has access to every opportunity to become self-reliant and to contribute to this great state.”
Read the national 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book.
For interactive statewide Georgia KIDS COUNT data, visit www.gafcp.org/kidscount.
Learn more about the Grade-level Reading Initiative.
Learn more about the Georgia Supermarket Access Task Force.
Georgia KIDS COUNT coordinator
GaFCP Communications Manager
Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) is a public/private partnership created by the State of Georgia and funders from the private sector to assist communities in addressing the serious challenges facing children and families. GaFCP also serves as a resource to state agencies across Georgia that work to improve the conditions of children and families. Georgia KIDS COUNT provides policymakers and citizens with current data they need to make informed decisions regarding priorities, services, and resources that impact Georgia’s children, youth, families, and communities. Georgia KIDS COUNT is funded, in part, through a grant from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States.
The KIDS COUNT Data Center (datacenter.kidscount.org) is a comprehensive source of information where you can download this year’s complete Data Book and access the new mobile site being launched using your smart phone.