North Carolina ranks only 37th among 50 states for the overall health and welfare of its children, according to the annual “Kids Count” report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Annie E. Casey Foundation, with $2.3 billion in assets, is the nation’s largest foundation devoted to children’s welfare.
Every year it releases an exhaustive report measuring 10 primary indicators of overall health and welfare, and dozens of sub-indicators.
The 2009 report does not reveal any major shifts up or down in North Carolina indicators, but the health, education, family income and opportunity for North Carolina’s children puts their plight in the bottom quarter of states.
The deep south states of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama rank at the bottom of the list. New Hampshire, Minnesota and Utah are at the top.
Among the main categories measured are demographics, education, economic well being, health and risk factors. These include number of children abused, those in out-of-home placements and other factors.
In North Carolina, “Kids Count” reports that 13.1 percent of children have no health insurance and 9.2 percent of infants are born with low birth weight, which can be a health indicator later in life.
Five percent of children live in households where no adults work, but more surprising, fully one-third of children live in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment. So, not surprisingly, 19.5 percent of children live in poverty.
In North Carolina 88,000 female headed families, or 30 percent of all female headed families, receive child support.
In 2007, the latest compiled year of statistics, 122,132 cases of child abuse and neglect were reported, an increase of 3,000 over the previous year. Of those reported, 15,058 were substantiated, a decrease of 5,515.
The number of children in foster care in 2008 was 15,773, down from 17,008 in 2007. These numbers may differ from state figures which indicate how many are in foster care at the time.
Annie E. Casey Foundation says in North Carolina 14 of every thousand children in foster care were “maltreated.”
That is down from 35 in 2007, but is an indicator of the difficulties in the system. That percentage would mean that 220 children in the foster care system last year were “maltreated.”
Twenty-five children died from abuse in North Carolina in 2007, according to the report.
Statistics show that just 53.1 percent of foster care children are reunited with family within 12 months. Of those, 4.8 percent are back in the foster care system within a year.
In North Carolina children in the system who have “no more than two different placements in one year” was 87.9 percent, an increase in the placement churning from 2005, when 91.9 percent stayed in no more than two different placements in a year.
One third of North Carolina’s children are in single parent homes and five percent of all children are in the care of grandparents. About six percent of children live with unmarried partners, the same percentage as live with neither parent.
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