New KIDS COUNT Report Ranks Georgia 37th in Child Well-beingPrint This Post
The 2012 KIDS COUNT report introduces a new, expanded index of 16 indicators of child well-being.
Family and Community
The Annie E. Casey Foundation released a report today that ranks Georgia 37th in the nation in child well-being. The national 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book reports that Georgia climbed out of the bottom 10 states on a new, even more robust and comprehensive portrait of how our nation’s children are faring. Georgia has made headways in children’s health and education, but continues to experience setbacks when it comes to their economic well-being.
“Georgia is making investments in a variety of initiatives around school improvement, college and career readiness, workforce development, and the recent focus on quality in early learning centers is providing us pathways to improve education and economic opportunity for all Georgians,” said Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) Executive Director Gaye Smith. “Through these initiatives Georgia is poised to shatter the barriers of poverty and racial and economic disparity that hinder our progress.”
While these contributions have lifted Georgia out of the bottom 10, the new Data Book indicates that kids and families in Georgia, as in the rest of the country, continue to grapple with the effects of unemployment, housing costs, home foreclosures, and lower-household incomes in the wake of the economic recession.
“This is a defining moment for Georgia—a mobilizing moment,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “While the news in this KIDS COUNT report is encouraging, it also reminds us that our work has just begun. I said from the beginning that I’m committed to our youngest Georgians, who are critical to our future. I will continue to support communities in ensuring that children will thrive and become successful adults, despite the many challenges they face.”
One in five Georgia children under age 18 lived in poverty in 2005. That rate worsened to one in four children by 2010. More Georgia children live in homes without secure parental employment and more Georgia teens ages 16 to 19 are not working and not in school.
“These findings confirm Georgia’s long-term struggle with poverty,” said Smith. “The prosperity of our state and nation depends on our children having opportunities to grow up in safe, thriving neighborhoods where their families have ample industry and job opportunities, affordable housing, adequate health care, and quality schools.”
The governor agrees. “Generational poverty is a persistent issue in Georgia,” he said. “The most effective way to move families toward self-sufficiency is through a two-generation strategy that helps parents find and keep work and save and build assets while investing in their children’s healthy development and educational success. I am committed to ensuring that Georgia’s children are educated healthy, safe, and growing.”
The 2012 KIDS COUNT report introduces a new, expanded index of 16 indicators of child well-being—a change from previous annual rankings based on 10 key indicators. The new index reflects two decades of advances in child development research and ranks each state in four domains: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.
Georgia received its highest national ranking in the Health domain—30. Contributing to this ranking is a drop in child and teen death rates, a decline in the number of children without health insurance, a dip in babies born at low birthweight, and a drop in youth ages 12-17 dependence on, or abusing drugs or alcohol.
Georgia students improved in several key academic areas but still lag behind the nation with a ranking of 38. More high-school students are graduating in four years and Georgia public school students are improving on national proficiency tests in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math. Georgia’s history of investing in early childhood education is still evident; our state continues to enroll more 3- and 4-year-olds in preschool.
Georgia is 37th in the nation in the Family and Community domain. More children in the Peach State are living in families where the household head has earned a high-school diploma, and there has been a 9 percent decline in the teen birth rate since 2005. However, the rates of children living in single-parent families and in high-poverty areas are on the rise.
“We celebrate the improvement in key indicators, but we are also mindful of the increased economic pressures facing Georgia families,” said Julie Sharpe, Georgia KIDS COUNT data manager. “Georgia’s lowest ranking is 43rd in the nation in Economic Well-Being. More than 600,000 of Georgia’s children live in poverty. That’s the population of Augusta, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah—combined.”
“We must use the data to motivate us to remain firm in our commitment to coming together, investing our time, our expertise, and our resources in today’s families,” said Smith. “And to protect every child’s right to learn, thrive, and contribute to the future of our great state.”
Read the 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book.
For interactive statewide data, visit Georgia KIDS COUNT at gafcp.org/kidscount.
Follow us on Twitter @gafcpnews.
Georgia KIDS COUNT coordinator
GaFCP Communications Director
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.