By Bob Weaver

The 2009 Kids Count report on the well-being of children in West Virginia has been released.

West Virginia has shown improvement over the years using Kids Count indicators, now listed at 38 of 50 in state listings, 50 being the state with the worst well-being.

Calhoun has also shown improvement, rising to 42 within the 55 counties, based on 12-core values.

Perhaps the most disturbing statistic is that over 30% of the county's 1,387 children under age 18 are living in poverty. Kids Count is using a 7,212 population projection for 2008.

Kids Count is saying that in 2007, Calhoun ranked 49th of 55 counties with the number of high school dropouts.

Some reports say about 70% of Calhoun school kids are eligible for free or reduced lunch assistance, but Kids Count says that number is lower.

Kids Count says there is improvement in the number of children being served by Headstart (ages 3-4) an increase of 48%, and a decrease in the number of births to unmarried teens of 39%.

Educational achievement has improved related to births to mothers with less than a 12th grade education, although the county is ranked near the bottom at 53.

Several of the statistics indicate high percentages, but really reflects a handful of children. The infant mortality rate shows a major increase of 331%, the worst in the state, when it represents only four or five deaths.

The county ranked 14th in the percent of births to unmarried teens, but birth statistics are likely skewed because nearly all children are born in out-of-county hospitals.

Kids Count shows a declining number of children in several age groups in 2008, with 73 children at age one, a predictor on the number of children graduating from the county high school in the future.

Kids Count says in 2009 there are only three registered family day care facilities in the county and two licensed child care facilities.

Overall Regional County Ratings: 2002

10 - Wirt

25 - Roane

28 - Ritchie

39 - Clay

41 - Calhoun

46 - Braxton

The best ranked county was Pendleton, the worst Lincoln.

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