|West Virginia has dropped six spots in the national child well-being ranking to 43rd, according to Kids Count.|
Poverty is a key element in leading to low academic achievement in WV.
According to the newly released 2015 KIDS COUNT® Data Book
from the Annie. E. Casey Foundation, there are 13,000 more West Virginia kids living in poverty than there were in 2008.
That number represents more than one in every four (or 27 percent) of the state's entire child population. Nationally, nearly a third of children are living in families where no parent has full-time employment.
In West Virginia, 38 percent of kids are in the same situation. And even when parents are working full time, wages and benefits are often not sufficient to adequately support a family.
The 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which focuses on key trends in child well-being in the post-recession years, measures child well-being in four domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
Today, the Casey Foundation reveals that the rising tide of recovery in the form of increasing employment and concentrated wealth has left stagnant pockets of low-income, struggling communities and families, where a child's future is anchored in scarcity and hardship.
"The 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book shows that West Virginia ranks 43rd in the country for child well-being, a significant drop from last year's ranking of 37th," said Margie Hale, executive director of West Virginia KIDS COUNT.
"More importantly, our child poverty rate has continued to climb since the Great Recession and has now jumped to 27 percent of all West Virginia kids. Since 2008, the number of children living in poverty has risen by almost 15 percent from 87,000 to 100,000," said Margie Hale.
"That's the highest child poverty rate we've seen in more than a decade."
"West Virginia has to do better for our children, and we can. We need to continue to increase our state minimum wage, and we must implement policies such as a state earned income tax credit, paid sick leave and increased childcare supports, which we know help lift kids and families out of poverty."
"Although we are several years past the end of the recession, millions of families still have not benefited from the economic recovery," said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation.
"While we've seen an increase in employment in recent years, many of these jobs are low-wage and cannot support even basic family expenses. Far too many families are still struggling to provide for the day-to-day needs of their children, notably for the more than 16 million kids who are living in poverty. We can and must do better: we can make policy choices to lift more families into economic stability."
For the first time in a decade, a non-New England state ranks number one for overall child well-being. Minnesota holds the top spot, followed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa, and Vermont. Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, New Mexico and Mississippi rank lowest. Other state highlights:
While three New England states rank within the top five for overall well-being among the 50 states, the top five states in the area of economic well-being are in the heartland and Plain States regions - North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.
The biggest drops in overall rankings are seen in West Virginia, Indiana, Rhode Island, Virginia, Arkansas and Vermont. West Virginia was ranked 37th in the 2014 rankings of child well-being and this year the state is 43rd.
Since 2008, the number of children living in poverty has risen by almost 3 million, from 13.2 million to 16.1 million today. Since 2008, the number of children living in poverty in W.Va. has risen by almost 15 percent from 87,000 to 100,000 today.