This year’s KIDS COUNT Data Book shows mixed results for North Carolina. While North Carolina children experienced significant long-term gains in health and education, they also faced setbacks in family economic security.
The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book examines 16 measures of child well-being. North Carolina ranks:
- 34th in the nation for Overall Child Well-being
- 38th in Economic Well-Being
- 39th in Child Poverty
- 32nd in Health
- 28th in Education
“We know what children need to be successful—a healthy start in life, stable families, a quality education, and safe and secure communities,” said Laila A. Bell, director of research and data at NC Child, home of the NC KIDS COUNT project.
In 2012, 26 percent of children in North Carolina lived in poverty, up 24 percent from 2005. Studies show poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy growth and development, placing children at risk for a slate of poor outcomes, including reduced academic achievement, increased dropout rates, health problems, substance abuse and greater likelihood of living in poverty during adulthood.
The data suggest North Carolina families are still feeling the impact of a poor economy. One in three children in North Carolina (33 percent) lives in a family where their parents lack secure employment.
“North Carolina ranks a low 39th for child poverty and a greater share of our children are being raised in high poverty neighborhoods than in West Virginia,” said Bell. “It is important that we invest in solutions that have been shown to help children overcome the negative effects of poverty, like high-quality early education.“
North Carolina children fared better in children’s health. The percentage of children without health insurance declined by 20 percent to 8 percent in 2012; child and teen deaths declined by 21 percent to 27 per 100,000 children ages one to 19 in 2010; and, the percentage of teens ages 12 to 17 who reported abusing alcohol or drugs in the past year fell by 25 percent to 6 percent in 2011-2012.
North Carolina slipped one spot in Education, but a closer look at the data reveals significant gains in high school graduation. Between 2005/2006 and 2011/2012, the share of high school students not graduating on time declined by a quarter to 21 percent.
The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book is available online at http://www.aecf.org/resources/the-2014-kids-count-data-book/.
This year’s Data Book marks the 25th edition of the report, which has evolved over time to offer an increasingly sophisticated view of how children fare nationally and by state. Bell says long-term trends highlight the difference effective programs and high quality practice can make in improving child well-being today and over time.