Survey: Miss. 49th in U.S. in Child Well-Being | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Survey: Miss. 49th in U.S. in Child Well-Being

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is 49th overall for the well-being of children, according to a new national survey released Monday.

The Anne E. Casey Foundation has done its Kids Count survey 24 years, and this is the first time Mississippi has not ranked 50th. New Mexico is in that spot now.

The survey says Mississippi ranks 48th in education and health, showing improvements in both areas. The state ranked 50th in economic well-being and family and community issues.

"While the health and education indicators have improved somewhat, keeping Mississippi out of its perennial 50th spot, the high percentage of children living in poverty coupled with children living in households whose parents lack secure employment continue to be of concern," Linda Southward, the Kids Count director for Mississippi, said in a news release.

Southward is a professor at Mississippi State University's Social Science Research Center.

"Improving quality early care and learning environments and having families with secure employment are two of the critical factors in advancing the overall well-being of Mississippi's children and youth," she said.

The survey showed that:

— In the category of education, 36 percent of Mississippi high school students were not graduating on time in 2009-2010, compared with 22 percent in the nation. In 2011, 78 percent of Mississippi fourth graders were not proficient in reading, compared to 68 percent nationally; and 81 percent of Mississippi eighth graders were not proficient in math, compared to 66 percent nationally.

— In the category of health, 12.1 percent of Mississippi babies born in 2010 had low birth weight, while the national rate was 8.1 percent. In 2011, 7 percent of Mississippi children were uninsured, compared to the national rate of 8 percent.

— In the category of economic well-being, 32 percent of Mississippi children lived in poverty in 2011, compared to 23 percent nationally. In Mississippi, 38 percent of children had parents who lacked secure employment in 2011, compared to 32 percent nationally.

— In the category of family and community issues, 47 percent of Mississippi children were living in a single-parent family in 2011, compared to 35 percent nationally. From 2007 to 2011, 24 percent of Mississippi children were living in high-poverty areas, compared to 12 percent nationally.

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