(08/02/2014)
The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2012 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, says West Virginia ranks 47th in the nation in their report's on education.

The report says nearly four out of five of the state's 8th graders (79%) are not proficient in math, and nearly three out of four 4th graders (73%) are not proficient in reading.

Calhoun's 4th graders are faring better.

Joining West Virginia in the bottom five nationally are Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico and Nevada.

On a national level, children continued to see setbacks in their economic well-being but have experienced gains in the education and health areas.

"In West Virginia, the effects of chronic poverty are being compounded by years of underinvestment in our youngest children. Our ranking of 47th in the nation in education reinforces KIDS COUNT's constant refrain that now is the time to finally make high-quality, affordable childcare a state priority." said KIDS COUNT'S Margie Hale.

"We will continue to face tough budget decisions, but the question we have to answer going forward is: What are our budget priorities? Longitudinal studies have clearly proven that high-quality, affordable childcare has a significant, positive impact on children's school performance and provides a $5.20 return for every dollar the state puts into it," said Hale.

"Unfortunately, West Virginia is not making young children a priority when programs like childcare subsidies for the working poor are being reduced or eliminated. We can and must do better," Hale said.

The new Data Book indicates kids and families nationwide continue to struggle in the wake of the recession.

In 2010, West Virginia data said 37% of kids had parents without secure employment, a 16% increase or about 22,000 children in the two-year period.

Nationally, from 2005 to 2010, the number of children living in poverty rose by 2.4 million. West Virginia ranks 37th in the nation in child well-being, 16 indicators of child well-being divided into four domains: economic well-being, education, health and family and community, which indicates overall improvement.

The worst individual rankings were children ages 3 to 4 not attending pre-school (47th); 8th graders who scored below proficient math level (46th) and the teen birth rate (45th). "Since 2005, West Virginia has made significant investments in improving the health of our children, and those investments are starting to reap big dividends," said Hale.

"We have reduced the number of uninsured children to only 4 percent thanks to the expansion of our Children's Health Insurance Program. And, with the recent Medicaid expansion and the launch of the Affordable Care Act," she said.

On the state level, since 1990, West Virginia has improved in 13 of 16 indicators of child well-being and gotten worse in three. The two biggest areas of improvement have been the number of children without health insurance and children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma.

On the downside, there has been a 75 percent increase in the number of West Virginia children in single parent families since 1990. More than 1 in 3 of the state's children now lives in a single parent household.

In Calhoun County, the report says 36% of Calhoun's children are living in poverty, with 47% of 4th graders not proficient in reading.

Sixteen percent of births are to unwed females (10-19).

The county is among about six in WV with the highest rate of child abuse and neglect at 37% (per 1,000).

Regional statistics child abuse and neglect:

Clay - 54%

Roane - 8%

Wirt - 20%

Gilmer - 22%

Braxton - 37%

Ritchie - 25%


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