Every year, we read reports from Kids Count that generally show the poor condition of life for South Carolina children. This year was no exception, but there are some improvements, if you can call them improvements.
For the past two years, the state has ranked 45th in the overall well-being of children. This year the state moved up to 43th. But, since 2000, the state hovered between ranking 44th to 47th. That’s not much progress and certainly not something to be proud of, but it is a move in the right direction.
Among the highlights for South Carolina, good and bad, in the 2012 report:
• 25 percent, or one in four, of the state’s children lives in poverty, or in a household income of $23,050 or less. That’s up 13 percent since 2005 and probably is a reflection of the poor economy and high unemployment rate.
• The state ranked 34th in economic well-being, but the study noted that the poor economy had taken its toll with rising numbers of children living in homes where the parents lack secure employment or who have living in poverty since 2005.
• Research shows that, for a family of four, it takes an annual income of $46,100, or twice the poverty level, to cover normal expenses. Yet half of the children in South Carolina live below that threshold.
• A 31 percent decrease in the number of children without health insurance.
• A 25 percent decrease in teens who abuse drugs or alcohol.
• A 15 percent decrease in child and teen deaths.
• An 8 percent decrease in the number of children not attending preschool.
South Carolina is a mostly rural state without major cities which spur many of the economic advantages noted in the report. But that’s no excuse for continuing to be near the bottom.
For years, groups have talked about issues to improve these basic fundamental area, but little progress is made, and the future doesn’t look bright for the many children who live in poverty.
The solutions aren’t easy, but we can’t stop, or even slow down, efforts to make our state and our communities better places for our children.