North Carolina children and families are losing ground in measures of financial security, while making moderate gains in education and health indicators, according to the 2015 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The Data Book provides state-to-state comparisons in four areas: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. The report ranks North Carolina 35th in the country for overall child well-being.
Key NC Economic Indicators Worsen
- More children live in poverty. 25% of NC children live in poverty, up from 20% in 2008.
- More families lack job security. 32% of NC children have parents that lack secure employment, up from 28% in 2008.
- More teens are disconnected. 9% of teens are out of school and not working up from 8% in 2008.
- Families struggle with affordable housing. A third of children live in households that struggle to afford the cost of housing, the same as 2008.
Slight Improvements in Some Education Measures
While the number of children not attending preschool rose to 58% from 54% in 2007-09, NC saw modest gains in other areas of education.
- More fourth graders were proficient in reading. 35% were reading proficient, up from 29% in 2007.
- Slightly more eighth graders were proficient in math. 36% were math proficient, up from 34% in 2007.
- More high school students graduated on time. 79% graduated, up from 73% in 2007/08.
When the data is disaggregated, the picture worsens. Only 22% of fourth-grade students from economically disadvantaged families scored at or above reading proficiency. (Economically disadvantaged is defined as children eligible for the National School Lunch Program.)
Health was the only category in which NC improved in each measure.
- Fewer babies born at low birth-weight. 8.8% down from 9.1% in 2008.
- More children have health insurance. 94% are insured, up from 90% in 2008.
- Teen deaths have declined. There were 26 teen deaths per 100,000, down from 31 in 2008.
- Teen alcohol and drug abuse decreased slightly. 6% of teens abuse drugs and alcohol, down from 7% in 2007-08.
“Smart investments in children’s early years produce the best outcomes in education, health and economic well being for North Carolina,” said Tracy Zimmerman, Executive Director of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. “When all children are given the best opportunity to realize their potential and grow up to be productive adults who can give back and strengthen our communities, North Carolina prospers.”
How Does NC Stack Up Compared to Its Southern Neighbors?
Economic Well-Being Rank341445394338Education Rank281027454036Health Rank321738363730Family and Community Rank361434394037
Download NC’s 2015 NC Kids Count Profile.
KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.