Nevada children rank poorly in Kids Count report

LAS VEGAS -- The latest rankings from the Annie E. Casey Foundation on the well-being of children placed Nevada 48th overall among the 50 states, continuing a trend many years in the making.

The foundation's 25th annual Kids Count data book, released Tuesday, finds Nevada children have slipped in economic well-being over the past decade. Even where there has been improvement -- education and health -- Nevada still ranks at or near the bottom.

According to Dr. Stephen Brown, the executive director of Nevada Kids Count, people who lack higher education are the ones hurting the most.

"What's going on there is the recovery is uneven that it is not reaching all strata of society and the hours worked aren't increasing at the same rate as people are being put back on the job," Dr. Brown said.

Nevada also did poorly in rankings related to family and community topics.

* Economic well-being: Nevada children ranked 47th overall based on 2012 data. Roughly 157,000 Nevada children, or 24 percent of the total underage population, lived in poverty. In 2005, only 15 percent lived in poverty.

There were 226,000 children, or 34 percent, whose parents lacked secure employment, compared to 26 percent in 2008. Some 296,000 children, or 45 percent, lived in households with a high housing cost burden, compared to 43 percent in 2005. There were also 14,000 teens, or 10 percent, who weren't in school and weren't working, a slight improvement from 11 percent in 2008.

* Education: Nevada children placed dead last in this category, even though the state experienced improvement in all four categories measured. Roughly 53,000 children, or 70 percent, didn't attend preschool during the 2010-2012 school years, an improvement from 75 percent in 2005-2007.

Some 73 percent of fourth graders weren't proficient in reading last year, an improvement from 79 percent in 2005. Roughly 72 percent of eighth graders weren't proficient in math in 2013, but that was better than the 79 percent recorded in 2005. Some 40 percent of high school students in the 2011-2012 school year didn't graduate on time, an improvement from 44 percent in 2005-2006.

* Health: Nevada children placed 47th overall despite improvement in all four categories measured. There were 2,781 low-birthweight babies, representing 8 percent of newborns, an improvement from 8.3 percent in 2005.

Roughly 110,000 children, or 17 percent, didn't have health insurance in 2012, compared to 20 percent in 2008. There were 27 child and teen deaths per 100,000 Nevadans in those age groups in 2010 -- or 189 deaths overall -- compared to 37 per 100,000 in 2005. Roughly 15,000 teens, or 7 percent, abused alcohol or drugs in 2011 and 2012, an improvement from 9 percent in 2005 and 2006.

* Family and community: Nevada children ranked 44th overall. There were 246,000 children, or 39 percent, in single-parent families in 2012, a downgrade from 32 percent in 2005. There were also 76,000 children, or 11 percent, living in high-poverty areas in 2008 through 2012, compared to only 5 percent in 2000.

But the 134,000 children who belonged to families where the household lacked a high school diploma improved from 23 percent in 2005 to 20 percent in 2012. The 2,863 teen births in 2012 also represented a sharp decline in that category, falling from 50 teen births per 1,000 total births in 2005 to 33 per 1,000 in 2012.

 


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