A new report ranks South Carolina 39th among states for overall children well-being. However, the new Annie E. Casey Foundation’s report this week says South Carolina has made major improvement, moving up after years spent the mid-to-lower 40s.
South Carolina outpaced Georgia at 42nd and Florida at 40th, according to the 2017 Kids Count survey released by the foundation on Tuesday.
The ranking was buoyed by strong economic growth in South Carolina, as well as a declining teen birth rate and increasing percentage of parents who earn at least a high school diploma.
“South Carolina is demonstrating a lot of positive improvements, based on previous years,” Children’s Trust of South Carolina policy and research associate Whitney Tucker said. “Most of them have been contributed to by our increased economic improvements. But some of them, I think, might actually be the result of policy changes.”
The report ranked South Carolina 41st last year, but Tucker warned against comparing the two years because one indicator measuring graduation rates changed after 2016.
Children’s Trust cited the Earned Income Tax Credit approved by the legislature earlier this year as an example of new policies making it easier for low-income parents to save money. The credit will allow some families who earn less than $55,000 per year to use the credit and receive more on their paychecks each month.
South Carolina’s economic outlook among states improved to 33rd in the nation after it was ranked 37th in 2016. The report’s health rankings improved the Palmetto State from 37th to 34th.
Tucker said South Carolina still needs to make progress in early childhood education, which she believes causes students to fall behind later in life. South Carolina’s math proficiency scores dropped this past year.