(02/20/2012)
The 2011 Kids Count report on the well-being of children in West Virginia was released today, showing West Virginia ranks 44th of 50 states related to 10 indicators.

"Since 2005, West Virginia has become a significantly safer place to be a kid," said Margie Hale, executive director of Kids Count. "But we are very alarmed that more babies are being born to teens, and more of those teens are unmarried. These babies need strong public supports that will help them overcome the risk factors that threaten their well-being."

West Virginia is the only state in the U.S. to see an increase in teen pregnancies from 2007 through 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Calhoun County is ranked 40th in West Virginia's 55 counties, use 12 core measurements of the condition of children, with one being the best and 55 being the worst.

The worst Calhoun indicators relates to a large increase in the birth rate among teens and the rate of child abuse and neglect.

In regional counties, the ranking: Roane, 31; Gilmer, 22; Braxton, 42; Clay, 44; Ritchie, 23; Wirt, 11.

Calhoun showed a 34% increase in infant death rates (per 1,000 children), a 41% increase in the child abuse and neglect rate (per 1,000 children); a 53% increase in the teen birth rate (15-19 per 1,000 females); and a 22% increase in teen injury death rate (15-19 per 100,000 teens).

A composite ranking from several years shows that about 25% of Calhoun's children are living in poverty, a statistic that has improved about 5% over several years.

Still the county ranks 49th in poverty of the state's 55 counties.

The Kids Count ranking showed a big improvement in the number of high school drop-outs, 55% better.

Eight-five percent of Calhoun children four years old are registered in pre-kindergarten.

The survey says 53% are eligible for free or reduced lunch, but school statistics have said the number is closer to 70%.

Kids Count says there are 489 children under age 6, with 61% living in families with parents in the labor force.

There are 1,514 children under 18.

Kids Count says there are three registered family day care providers, but only one licensed day care provider.


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