Georgia ranks low nationally in child welfare, study saysPrint This Post
Georgia’s children are worse off than children in most states, according to a new study of child welfare.
Georgia ranked no. 42 among the states, just behind Texas at 41 and just ahead of No. 43 West Virginia.
The annual “Kids Count” survey by the Annie E. Casey Foundation compares states on four broad areas related to children’s well-being – education, health, family and community, and economic well-being. Within each of those domains are four indicators – 16 in all.
Georgia improved its scores in a number of areas. But other states improved just as much, so Georgia’s No. 42 standing among the states stayed the same as last year.
New England neighbors New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont ranked no. 1, 2 and 3 in the calculations. Louisiana (47), New Mexico (48) and Mississippi (50) brought up the rear.
Georgia ranked best in education – 34th among states, largely because of lottery-funded pre-K programs and rising scores in fourth grade reading. Some 66 percent of Georgia fourth-graders were not proficient in reading as of 2015, nearly the same as the national average of 65 percent. Five years ago, 71 percent of Georgia fourth graders were in that “not proficient” status in reading.
Math achievement slipped by one percentage point, both in Georgia and the United States, down to 72 percent of eighth graders not proficient in Georgia versus 68 percent not proficient nationwide.
“Math proficiency still lags behind reading proficiency, which is also true at the national level,” said Rebecca Rice, Georgia Kids Count manager at Georgia Family Connection Partnership, in a press release.
For years in the 1990s, Georgia made gains in the annual Kids Count rankings, moving from the high 40s to the high 30s, said Tim Johnson, executive director of Clarke County’s Family Connection/Communities in Schools of Athens.
“Then, in about 2002, we started moving a little bit in the other direction as the state began cutting funds for child protection and education,” he said.
Georgia’s lowest ranking in later Kids Count data was in economic well-being. About 603,000 children, 24 percent, of Georgia’s children were in poverty as of 2015, a little better than the 2010 figure of 25 percent, but still significantly higher than the national average of 21 percent. Children in poverty is one of the four indicators within the Kid Count economic well-being category.
Of the 16 measures the study used to build its rankings, Georgia was better than the national average in just one: young children not in school. Fifty percent of young children in Georgia were not in school between 2013-15, compared to 53 percent nationally.
Georgia matched the national average in three categories: teens who abuse alcohol or drugs (5 percent), children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma (14 percent) and children living in households with a high housing cost burden (33 percent, compared to 41 percent in 2010).
Georgia’s teen birth rate improved significantly, from 41 per 1,000 teens in 2010 to 26 in 2015. But Georgia still lags behind the national average, which improved from 34 births per 1,000 in 2010 to 22 in 2015.
Georgia was also significantly worse in child and teen deaths – 29 per 200,000, compared to 25 nationally – and children lacking health insurance, seven percent in Georgia compared to five percent nationally
Both nationally and in Georgia, more children were living in single-parent families. In Georgia, 39 percent were in single-parent homes in 2015, up from 38 percent in 2010; nationally, 35 percent of children were in single-family homes in 2015, up from 34 percent five years earlier.
Read the story on onlineathens.com.