West Virginia ranked 37th in child well-being in ’14 Kids Count report

WHEELING – West Virginia ranks 37th among the states when it comes to child well-being, according to the 2014 Kids Count report produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The report, released Wednesday, factored four criteria: economic well-being, education, health and family and community. Kids Count used data from 2012 in its findings.

The Mountain State ranked 28th in economic well-being for children. The report split the data into four categories: children in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in households with a high housing cost burden, and teens not in school and not working.

According to the report, West Virginia had:

25 percent of children living in poverty. Nationally, about 23 percent of all children live in poverty, and the poverty line in 2012 was $23,283 for a family of two adults and two children.

34 percent of children with parents who lack secure employment. The national average was 30 percent.

24 percent of children with a high housing burden, where more than 30 percent of all income goes toward housing.

9 percent of teens not in school and not working. The national average was 8 percent.

West Virginia continues to struggle in education, finishing 46th nationally when the following categories are considered: children not attending preschool, fourth graders not proficient in reading, eighth graders not proficient in math and high school students not graduating on time.

65 percent of children did not attend preschool, the third lowest percentage in the nation – only Arizona and Nevada were worse. The national average was 54 percent.

73 percent of fourth graders were not proficient in reading. Only New Mexico, Mississippi, Louisiana and Washington, D.C., scored worse. At the national level, 66 percent of all fourth graders are not proficient in reading, according to Kids Count.

76 percent of eighth graders were not proficient in math. Washington, D.C., New Mexico, Mississippi, Louisiana fared worse. Nationally, 66 percent of all eighth graders were not math proficient.

20 percent of high school students did not graduate on time, which matched the national average.

West Virginia children ranked 35th in health, based on low-birthweight babies (9.2 percent, national average 8 percent); children without health insurance in 2012 (4 percent, national average 7 percent); child and teen deaths per 100,000 (33 percent, national average 26 percent); and teens who abuse drugs or alcohol (6 percent, the national average).

The Mountain State came in at 33rd in family and community indicators. According to the report, 35 percent of all children are in single parent families, which hits the national average; 11 percent are in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma, compared to the national average of 15 percent; 8 percent live in high-poverty areas (13 percent nationally); and there are 44 teen births per 1,000 children, compared to the national average of 29 percent.

In Ohio, the state ranked 24th overall based on the criteria. The Buckeye State ranked 22nd in economic well-being, and 16th in education, improving in all criteria measured in that category. In health, Ohio ranked 18th, while in family and community it ranked 30th.