Every year the Annie E. Casey Foundation releases a data book that ranks the 50 states in terms of the well-being of children.
According to the project called Kids Count, the Palmetto State still ranks 45th in the nation for child well-being and says there are 260,000 children, or one-in-four, that qualify as “poor.” Twice that many, or half of the Palmetto State’s children, live in severe poverty.
Baron Holmes, Director of South Carolina Kids Count program says South Carolina’s ranking is typical of the state’s position over the last twenty years. “That 45th ranking leaves us at the back of the pack, where we don’t want to be,” says Holmes. ” The fact is, that we’ve remained there for two decades reminds us that we’re going to have to do something really different if we’re going to want to move up.”
Despite the grim report on the state’s children, Holmes says that there were improvements during the past decade among South Carolina’s adolescents. Holmes explains, “The birthrate of teens, the death of teens, the graduation rate and reduction in teens who were either not working or were not in school, all of those improved.” However, Holmes says on the other hand, the economic and family side continued to get worse, “So the poverty increased and that was affected by single children in single-parent families with one or no paycheck.”
Holmes says the state’s status was most likely made worse by the Great Recession. “The biggest difficulty that South Carolina has is that we are caught with low education, low paying jobs and unemployment or underemployment,” he emphasizes. The report released by the Kids Count foundation showed how the Great Recession has increased the state’s poverty rate from 21 percent to 24.5 percent.
Growing worse, was the percentage of kids in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment and children living in single-parent families. Holmes says the state appears to be stuck in place. Holmes added, “Our poverty, low education, low health and other consequences are all a package that we’ve not managed to unravel.”
South Carolina is one of the original seven states to be tracked in this project which began in 1990.