(02/19/2011)
RANKINGS: ONE BEST, 55 WORST

By Bob Weaver

With Calhoun ranked 34th out of WV's 55 counties related to the well-being of children using 12 indicators, Kids Count says there are hopeful signs that some areas are improving since 2000.

Kids Count's most recent statistic regarding children living in poverty in Calhoun is 33% (2008), but since the recession hit America and working poor families are now being affected, the poverty rate would be considerably higher.

The 2008 rate of 33% poverty rate in Calhoun places the county at 49th out of the 55 counties.

The most improved areas are related to health-care, with improvement in the birth-weight of infants (Calhoun ranking high in the first 10% of WV counties) and favorable numbers regarding the child death rate.

The county has a high number of children attending Head Start, ranking 29th of 55 counties.

The county fares well with the number of high school dropouts, ranked at 15 of the 55 counties.

Calhoun has among the highest rates of child abuse and neglect rates, ranking 51 of the 55 counties. The report (2008) says 43.9% per 1000 children have experienced problems, with the overall WV rate being 18.9% per thousand children.

The Herald has been unsuccessful, with multiple attempts, with WV-DHHR officials to obtain the number of children removed from Calhoun and regional county families, while the agency says such information is public.

The Calhoun Circuit Clerk reports 66 juvenile cases last year (39 abuse/neglect, 24 status offenders and three delinquency cases), compared to about 50 adult criminal cases processed in circuit court.

Margie Hale, executive director of Kids Count, says a troubling statistic is the number of children in the Mountain State receiving free and reduced lunch.

Over 70% of Calhoun's school children are eligible or receiving free or reduced lunch, with the county ranked at 51 of the 55 counties.

Perhaps the most favorable statistic, although it is somewhat questionable, the latest report says that Calhoun has the least percent of births to unmarried teens (age 10-19) in West Virginia at 5.7% (2008).

The reports indicate that between 2006-08, 14 unmarried Calhoun mothers gave birth.

The overall teen birth rate statistic shows the county at 21 of the 55 counties.

The pregnancy statistics are from Bureau of Public Health.

Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Roger Propst says there are no statistics on pregnancies at Calhoun Middle-High School.

The percent of births to mothers with less than a 12th grade education is at 2.3% per thousand, with the county ranked at 45 of the 55 counties.

About 44% of Calhoun children under age 6 live with parents who are in the labor force.

In 2008-09 78% of four-year-olds had been enrolled in pre-kindergarten.

Kids Count has had a clear initiative to increase child-care providers, with the county showing only one licensed child care center in 2010, and only two registered family day care homes.

More to follow showing Calhoun compared to regional counties ...

See CALHOUN RANKS 34TH WITH CHILDREN'S WELL-BEING - Kid's Count Says One-Third Calhoun Children Living In Poverty


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