South Carolina achieved its highest placement to date in an annual nationwide survey of child well-being, although the state still remained in the bottom half nationally.
Improvements in measures of strong families and children with health insurance placed South Carolina at 38th in the nation for child well-being, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2018 KIDS COUNT ® Data Book.
Children’s Trust Chief Executive Sue Williams said the study looks at a variety of issues dealing with a child’s well-being. “We’ve made concerted efforts in some programs around reducing teen pregnancies and improving graduation rates.”
Additional indicators reveal where South Carolina is making progress for youth, and where proven prevention work is yielding dividends. More high school students are graduating on time. In the 2015-2016 school year, 17 percent of students did not graduate on time as compared to 26 percent of students in 2010-2011. Additionally, births to teen parents have fallen to 24 births for every 1000 births.
However, South Carolina continues to struggle with education, ranking 42nd in the category. It has only made slight gains from 2013-15 to 2014-16 in the percentage of three- and four-year old’s attending preschool. Despite a slight improvement since 2009, 71 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading. And 74 percent of eighth-graders are not proficient in math, a 6 percent jump since 2009.
“The important thing is not to look at any one data point because it is just a point in time, but to look at the trend data and how kids are doing and fairing over the long term,” Williams said.
The reports states South Carolina must provide adequate funding and support in order to improve further. However, it claims such support is threatened by the potential undercount in the upcoming 2020 Census. Since many programs such as education, school lunches and children’s health insurance (CHIP) rely upon formula funding based on Census population numbers, South Carolina could lose billions if not all children are counted.
Additional information is available at www.aecf.org/databook, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being.