(AP Photo/Toby Talbot). FILE- In this Feb. 3, 2010 file photo, students eat lunch at Sharon Elementary School in Sharon, Vt.
The latest Kids Count data is a mixed bag for South Dakota's children, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation 2013 KIDS COUNT data book.
The KIDS COUNT Data Book is created by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, featuring the latest data on child well-being for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation.
South Dakota's overall ranking of 18th dropped one spot from 2012. Carole Cochran project director of South Dakota KIDS COUNT at the University of South Dakota's Beacom School of Business noted Economic and Health domains improved for the state's children but Education and Family and Community conditions declined.
South Dakota ranks 3rd in Economic Well-being for children. The number of children in poverty remained unchanged since 2005, 18 percent. The 2013 Data Book shows 36,000 South Dakota children, or nearly 1 in 5, are living in poverty (income less than $22,811 for a family of two adults and two children in 2011); that is 3,000 children more in poverty than 8 years ago. The number of children living in high-poverty areas also remained unchanged from 11 percent since 2000.
Children whose parents lack secure employment worsened from rose by one percent to 24 percent, and children living in households with a high housing cost burden also increased from 22 percent in 2005 to 25 percent in 2011.
Teens not in school and not working decreased a percent to 5 percent. According to a news release form the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the decrease may be because of the 2009 change in state law that required school attendance to age 18.
"The state's overall economic outlook for children was boosted by a sharp decline in the percent of teens ages 16 to 19 that are neither attending school nor working," a news release from Annie E. Casey Foundation stated.
South Dakota ranked 22nd in the Education; a breakdown of the stats are mixed. The data shows more children are attending preschool and more 8th graders are proficient in math.
On a low note, 4th graders not proficient in reading rose by 2 percent to 69 percent. High school students not graduating on time rose 3 percent to 18 percent.
The state showed positive signs for children's health, driven by its declining child and teen death rate. South Dakota had the 9th-fewest child deaths in the country in 2010, according to the KIDS COUNT data, and the rate dropped from 49 per 100,000 in 2005 to 39 in 2010.
Despite the decrease, South Dakota still ranks 48th in the nation for child and teen death rates. The leading cause of teen deaths in South Dakota is car crashes, according to KIDS COUNT. One way South Dakota could significantly decrease child and teen deaths would be to require more time behind the wheel with an experienced driver and limit distractions (electronic devices and teen passengers) in the vehicle, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Furthermore in the Health category, South Dakota showed improvements when it comes to insuring children. 25 percent more kids were insured in 2011 from 2008, according to the research.
The rate of teens that abuse alcohol or drugs was dropped by one percent.
The state's increase in low birth-weight babies set off some red flags. South Dakota had the best ranking for birth-weights in 2009 and 2010 but fell to 8th in 2010. KIDS COUNTS says some contributing factors to the change could be a lack of prenatal care, good nutrition and use of tobacco and alcohol.
Family and Community:
In the Family and Community category South Dakota ranked 24th. Positively, the state's rate of teen births per 1,000 improved from 38 to 35 and there are fewer children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma.
The number of children living in single-parent families increased from 28 percent eight years ago to 32 percent in 2011.
Across the US, child poverty is standing still or rising. The number of children in high-poverty neighborhoods continued to climb in 50 states and varies widely from a fraction of a percent in Wyoming to 24 percent in Mississippi.
Nationally, the outlook for children is better in education and health. 46 states and the District of Columbia saw improvements in math proficiency, but a considerable gap lies between Massachusetts, with 49 percent of its eighth-graders not proficient in the subject, and Mississippi, with 81 percent.
The teen birth rate and rate of high school students not graduating is declining, as did the child teen death rate. More and more children are receiving health insurance too.
New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts rank highest for overall child well-being, while Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico rank the lowest.
"The progress we're seeing in child health and education is encouraging, but the economic data clearly speak to the considerable challenges we still face," said Laura Speer, the Case Foundation's associate director for policy reform and data. "We need to do better and be smarter about investing in effective programs and services to help ensure all kids get the best possible start in life."
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