SC 45th Nationwide in Children's Well-Being

Columbia, SC (WLTX) South Carolina ranks 45th in the nation in the latest "Kids Count" survey of children's well-being. The state has improved in some areas, but not enough to move up. It was also ranked 45th last year.

The annual survey is compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy aimed at improving children's futures and strengthening families. It looks at areas like economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

Melissa Strompolis, Coordinator of Impact Assessment and Evaluation at Children's Trust of South Carolina, says there is good news in this year's report.

"We've seen a good reduction in the number of teen births," she says. "That's something that's happened across the nation but also dramatically in South Carolina, so that's one of the positives. And we've also seen a reduction in child and teen deaths."

South Carolina had 32 child and teen deaths per 100,000 in 2010, down from 41 in 2005.

Teen births dropped to 37 per 1,000 in 2012 from 51 in 2005.

The state also improved in low-birthweight babies, children without health insurance, and teens who abuse alcohol or drugs.

But the number of children living in poverty got worse, with 27 percent of the children in the state living in poverty. Nationwide, that number is 23 percent.

And 72 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading, while 69 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in math.

Strompolis says the high poverty numbers are tied to the state's poor educational levels. She says the solution is to improve not only children's education but their parents' as well.

"By improving our families, they're going to help us provide better supports to our kids. By helping our kids, we're going to make sure that all these great jobs that are coming to South Carolina can be filled by them in the future," she says.

Improving parents' education could be anything from job training to making technical colleges and adult education more accessible, she says.

The highest ranking state is Massachusetts. Strompolis says Children's Trust of SC is looking at what programs are working there that might be useful here.

North Carolina ranks 34th, while Georgia ranks 42nd. Mississippi ranks last.


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