State ranks slightly lower on child welfare
By Andy Brack, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher | The environment in which South Carolina’s children grow up has deteriorated slightly over the past five years, according to a review of annual studies that rank child well-being in states across the country.
South Carolina ranks 41st out of 50 states for child and family well-being, according to the 2021 KidsCount National Survey. Five years ago, the state ranked 39th.
The annual data survey, which is compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and published in Palmetto State by the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, combines four data points each for economic well-being, the education, health care and family and community. to develop the general classification.
Asked about the danger that state and local lawmakers do nothing to move South Carolina’s children away from the bottom tier of the nation’s results, the Children’s Trust research director Aditi Srivastaf Bussells mentionned, “When we do not prepare our next generation for success, South Carolina’s success is at stake. When our children cannot thrive, how can we expect our economy or our communities to do so? “
Steve Skardon, executive director of the Palmetto Project, stressed the business impact of doing nothing: “When we have a poor health in South Carolina, we have an unhealthy workforce.
Indicator: Economic well-being
Economic well-being fell from an intermediate score of 33 out of 50 states in 2017 to a rank of 37 in 2021. As the overall score declined, the state improved its measures on each of the indicators that made up the category. . This suggests that while South Carolina is doing better than before at improving the economic well-being of children, other states are doing even better.
- Children in poverty: In 2021, the state had around 215,000 children living in poverty, up from 256,000 in 2017.
- Children whose parents do not have a stable job: In the 2021 report, an estimated 28% of children fell into this category, up from 31% five years earlier. The number rose from 332,000 to 311,000 children.
- Children living in households with high housing costs: The percentage fell from 29% of children in 2017 (332,000 children) to 26% of children (284,000 children) in the 2021 report.
- Adolescents out of school and not working: From 21,000 to 19,000 in five years.
South Carolina ranked 44th in the KidsCount education category, up from 37th in 2017. There were approximately 3,000 children under the age of 3 and 4 out of school (65,000 in 2021 versus 68,000 in 2017). Compared to 2017, indicators showed that about the same number of fourth graders (68%) were not proficient in reading, the same percentage of eighth graders (71%) were not proficient in mathematics and the same percentage (20%) of high school students. were not graduating on time. Again, the numbers were broadly similar, but the state didn’t make enough improvements over the five years not to lower its rank in education.
The state’s rank in this category fell from 39th in 2017 to 41st in 2021.
- Low birth weight babies: The number increased from 5,535 in 2017 to 5,610 in 2021.
- Children without health insurance: South Carolina had 44,000 children without health insurance in 2017, up from 69,000 in 2021, according to the report.
- Deaths of children and adolescents per 100,000: This number has also increased, from 373 in 2017 to 391 in 2021.
- Obesity: This category was added between 2017 and 2021, but the new report says childhood obesity was worse, affecting 36% of children aged 10 to 17.
Indicator: Family and community
The state’s KidsCount ranking in this category dropped from one place to 38th place out of 50 states. But individual categories of data showed improvement. Of particular interest was a sharp drop in the number of children living in areas of high poverty, from 153,000 in the 2017 report to 101,000 in 2021. Also noteworthy is a significant drop in teenage births from 4,021 in 2017 to 3,425 in the 2021 report.
Experts say more investment in education, health care and other areas is needed for South Carolina’s wellness scores to improve. The same advice comes up year after year.
Investing is more important than ever after the pandemic, which Children’s Trust CEO Sue Williams says has caused big setbacks for children.
“We want our state to be a place where all children can thrive, families have what they need to provide stable and loving homes for their children, and communities have resources to embrace families in times of need. crisis and hardship, ”Williams said in a statement.
Bussells added, “Local and state decision-makers should consider adopting policies that provide well-paying jobs for hard-working families, recruit and retain a highly skilled educational workforce, provide broadband access for all and expand the access to affordable health insurance for all families. “
She said county officials could also jump in the game by doing more to help children.
“At the county level, work to make communities safe and free from violence, provide affordable housing options, equitably fund schools (not the same as also), provide community resources that help young parents with their skills and their ability to enter the workforce and balance the needs of their families.