(02/16/2011)
By Bob Weaver

The WV statistics for 2010 have just been released by KIDS COUNT.

"Overall, the well-being of West Virginia's children has improved since 2000," says Margie Hale, Executive Director of the West Virginia KIDS COUNT Fund.

Using the latest available statistics, KIDS COUNT says about one-third of Calhoun's children are living in poverty, but the 2008 statistic does not reflect an increased number linked to a worsening economy.

Calhoun ranked 34th out of 55 counties using about a dozen indicators regarding the well-being of children, with one being the best and 55th being the worst.

"I'm especially pleased to see that the seven-year increase in the percent of low birth-weight babies has finally stalled," said Hale.

Hale said the ongoing increase in the number of children who are living in families that are 'near poor,' and therefore qualify for free or reduced price lunches, is troubling.

KIDS COUNT says 70% of Calhoun's children are eligible for free or reduced lunch with the county school system.

"During tough economic times, working families need strong public supports that help mitigate the effects of poverty, including new investments to boost the quality of early child development programs," Hale said.

Interestingly, Wirt County, the state's smallest county, ranked the highest in well-being of the regional counties with a rating of 13.

Regional county rankings: Clay (50); Braxton (43); Calhoun (34); Ritchie (31); Roane (27); Gilmer (18); Wirt, (13) .

West Virginia ranked 43rd among the USA's 50 states with child well-being.

More to follow ...


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