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Report: More North Carolina Kids Live in Poverty

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By Herbert L. White, Special to the NNPA from The Charlotte Post –

North Carolina children face more economic insecurity according to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Kids Count Data Book found that North Carolina ranks 38th in key indicators of child health and well being in 2011, down a spot from last year. Well-being indicators, which the authors say usually trail economic markers, haven’t captured the recession’s impact and may not for several years.

“While important gains have been made for North Carolina’s children, clear challenges still exist,” said Laila Bell, director of research and data at Action for Children North Carolina, which commissioned Kids Count. “In 2009, half a million children in North Carolina lived in poverty – a particularly sobering statistic since we know that poverty affects children’s academic, health and future labor market outcomes.”

The data reveals a mixed message in North Carolina. The number of kids living in poverty ($22,050 for a family of four in 2009) grew to 504,000 while the teen birth rate declined to 49 births per 1,000 girls in 2008.

On the other hand, school dropout rates continued to improve, with the state ranking 29th in the U.S. at seven percent compared to 16 percent in 2000.

Economic and social gains for children started to slide before the recession, Kids Count data showed. In N.C., 90,000 children, or two percent of the state’s total, were in families that were impacted by home foreclosure. An estimated 253,000, or 12 percent, lived in homes that had at least one parent who was unemployed.

“Foreclosure and parental unemployment threaten the well-being of our children,” Bell said. “Evidence shows that stable, economically secure homes are critical components of child development and are essential to children’s life success.”

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