South Carolina moved to its highest spot in the 27-year history of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book rankings released Tuesday.
After jumping three spots last year to No. 42, the state climbed one more this year and showed improvements in the health and economic well-being categories. But Associate Director for Policy Reform at the foundation Laura Speer told South Carolina Radio Network even though there is improvement in the state, South Carolina still is near the bottom in the nationwide ranking.
“That’s an improvement for South Carolina,” she said. “However, it’s still pretty low in terms of 50th is the worst. And 41st is not that far from 50th, unfortunately.”
Data also show that some key indicators for teens are improving. The child and teen death rate, teen birth rate, and percent of teens abusing drugs and alcohol have all decreased significantly since 2008. Children’s Trust of South Carolina believes success is due in part to prevention and intervention programs around distracted driving, maternal health and teen pregnancy.
However, other indicators reveal significant deficits and send a strong signal that dedicated strategies are needed to give South Carolina children and families improved opportunities:
•56 percent of 3- and 4-year olds are not attending preschool;
•67 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading;
•74 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in math; and
•27 percent of children live in poverty.
“We look at sixteen indicators of well-being,” Speer said. “They cover a range of things from economic well-being to education to health and the kind of status of the family and the communities in which kids live.”