National Economic Boom Leaves Many Children Behind
By Clare Nolan, Senior Writer
WASHINGTON - Even though the United States is in the midst of the longest period of prosperity in the nation's history, millions of American children still live in concentrated areas of poverty that remain resistant to change, according to a report released Tuesday morning by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The report, Kids Count Data Book 1999, notes many encouraging statistics. Infant mortality over the past 10 years is way down in every state and the District of Columbia. The child death rate is lower in 43 states. The percentage of children living with unemployed or only partly employed parents is down in 44 states.
Nationwide, teen death rates, percentages of teenagers dropping out of high school, percentages of teens who neither work nor attend school and rates of child poverty also fell between 1985 and 1996.
At the same time, however, the report finds the percentage of children in homes headed by a single parent climbed between 1985 and 1996, from 22 percent to 27 percent.
It also warns of millions of children who suffer severe deprivations: an absent father, a mother with no high school diploma, unemployed parents, a household income below poverty, reliance on welfare and no health insurance.
The report found one in seven, or 9.2 million, children live in families affected by four or more of these serious risk factors.
"For these kids, the odds are truly stacked against their becoming full participants in the promise of the 21st century," said Douglas Nelson, President of the foundation.
A third of these 9.2 million children live in the nation's toughest urban communities, the foundation said.
The states which rank the lowest are Mississippi 50th, Louisiana 49th and New Mexico 48th. The best performers are New Hampshire at number one, North Dakota 2nd, Minnesota 3rd and Wisconsin 4th.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has tracked statistics on children's well-being in all 50 states and published its Kids Count Data Book states since 1990.
States ranked best to worst:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- New Jersey
- South Dakota
- Rhode Island
- New York
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- South Carolina
- New Mexico
- Washington, D.C.