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KIDS COUNT data for Mississippi released
MISSISSIPPI STATE – The 20th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book was released this week and includes information on the needs and conditions of Mississippi’s children and families.
The book presents national and state data to determine the degree to which children and families benefit from and are supported by their local environments. The data helps each state determine how they are doing compared to other states and the nation as a whole. Data for Mississippi reveals that trends in child well-being have improved in some areas and declined in others since 2000.
“Children growing up in healthy, safe, educational and economically secure environments have better opportunities for development,” said Linda Southward, KIDS COUNT coordinator for Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center. “This provides them an opportunity to grow into adults who fully participate in society and contribute to the economy that we all depend on.”
Mississippi has made improvements in areas such as infant mortality rate, teen death rate, teen birth rate and percentage of high school dropouts. Among the more promising findings for Mississippi, the child death rate improved from 2000 to 2006, consistent with national trends.
Mississippi has seen declines in four areas: percentage of low-birthweight babies, children living in poverty, children living in single-parent families and children living in families where no parent has full-time employment. Additionally, the percentage of Mississippi teens ages 16 to 19 who were high school dropouts fell to 8 percent in 2007, the state’s lowest percentage this decade.
“It is encouraging to the see the reduction in teenage dropouts in our state. This improvement is so important because educational attainment makes such a huge difference in the quality of life for families and children,” said Mike Clayborne, president of CREATE Foundation Inc. “I am confident that the local and statewide efforts now under way to provide support and encouragement for students to stay in school will continue to have a positive impact.”
Some problems remain consistent and pervasive, however. Among the 50 states, Mississippi has consistently ranked highest in the percentage of low-birthweight babies for each year from 2000 to 2006.
For states to make improvements in data collection, analysis and dissemination that can ultimately yield better policy and advocacy on behalf of children and families, the Annie E. Casey Foundation offers several recommendations.
They advise that state and local governments create stronger administrative databases, improve data analysis, promote data-driven practice improvements and expand the use of new information technologies. They also encourage child advocates and other concerned leaders to use data-driven advocacy to target their efforts.
“Until we are willing to make the necessary investment and sacrifices in education and health to improve the overall well-being of all our citizens, we will remain last,” said Dr. J. Edward Hill, past president of the American Medical Association.
The KIDS COUNT Data Book reminds child advocates that it is now more important than ever to have accurate data to show how American families are faring in the current economic downturn. The book provides information that can help improve the well-being of those children and families most in need.
For more information on the Mississippi data, go to datacenter.kidscount.org/ms.
Writer: Karen Templeton