State's Kids Count results mixed
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
South Dakota's ranking was high at No. 3 in the nation for the economic well-being of its young residents, according to a recent annual report, but the rankings for education, health, and family and community weren't as impressive when compared to neighbors North Dakota and Nebraska.|
Researchers for the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked South Dakota at 18 in their 2013 Kids Count Data Book, which offers information for each state and the entire U.S. However, North Dakota received an overall rank of No. 6 and Nebraska placed at No. 8 in the same study.
According to Carole Cochran, South Dakota's Kids Count project director, the state's overall rank at 18 was a slight drop from last year. Cochran, who works in association with the University of South Dakota, described the information as mixed for the state with conditions improving among the economic and health sectors. However, the state fared worse in the information collected for the education and family and community categories.
Although South Dakota landed at No. 3 for the economic well-being of its young persons, North Dakota took first place in the category and Nebraska was ranked No. 4.
"We rank very high in that domain -- economic well-being -- but that's offset by problems in the health category," Cochran said.
Among the economic data, 18 percent of South Dakota children were categorized as living in poverty, amounting to about 30,000 boys and girls. The percentage for South Dakota was unchanged, comparing data from 2005 to information collected in 2011.
Nebraska had an identical percentage of 18, but its children-in-poverty total was estimated at 82,000. North Dakota's percentage was calculated at 15 with 22,000 boys and girls residing in the poverty group.
In the Kids Count study, a family of two adults and two children was considered living in poverty if its annual income was less than $22,800.
South Dakota showed one area of improvement in the economic well-being area; the percentage of teens not in school and not working decreased from 6 percent in 2008 to 5 percent in 2011. In real numbers, South Dakota had 2,000 teens not in school or employed, compared to North Dakota at 3,000 teens (7 percent) and Nebraska at 5,000 teens (5 percent).
North Dakota and Nebraska each had their teens not in school and not working percentages increase by 1 percent from 2008 to 2011. The teens not in school or not working information was collected from a 16- to 19-year-old age group in which the young people were not in school or working at a job either part- or full-time.
The Kids Count researchers considered that a 2009 change in South Dakota law requiring students to stay in school until age 18 had improved the state's standing.
Among the health information, the study found that South Dakota mothers had 806 low-birthweight babies in 2010, increasing the percentage from 6.6 in 2005 to 6.8 in 2010.
North Dakota's percentages also increased from 6.4 to 6.7 during the same time period with 607 babies having low birthweights in 2010. Nebraska saw an increase in low birthweights from 7 percent in 2005 to 7.1 percent in 2010. Nebraska's number of low-birthweight babies was calculated at 1,839 during 2010.
Low-birthweight infants are defined as babies weighing less than 5.5 pounds, and the information is based on the mother's place of residence, not the location of the birth. The contributing factors to low birthweight could be poor nutrition and the use of tobacco and alcohol.
"Another important factor is the mother's access to prenatal care, especially during the first trimester," Cochran said. "Receiving good prenatal care is a contributor to preventing low birthweights."
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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