The following is a news release from Voices for Alabama's Children.
2010 KIDS COUNT Data Book: Report Shows Progress and Challenges for Alabama's Children
Montgomery, Alabama---According to the 2010 KIDS COUNT Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, child well-being in Alabama has shown improvement in three areas: teen birth rate, child death rate and the percent of teens not in school and not high school graduates.
Among the 50 states, Alabama ranked in the bottom ten on four of ten indicators, a large improvement from years past when Alabama fell into the bottom ten on as many as nine indicators. The 2010 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranked Alabama 49th in the infant mortality rate; 48th in the percentage of low birth-weight babies; 45th in the teen death rate; and 43rd in the percentage of children in single-parent families.
Overall, the 2010 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Alabama 47th. The latest and most complete numbers used in this year's Data Book are from 2007 and 2008.
"This report shows both progress and challenges. We have made positive strides in several areas, however, the data in the report do not yet reflect how the Great Recession has impacted children in our state," said Linda Tilly, executive director of VOICES for Alabama's Children. "The good news still remains that relative to other states, Alabama compares more favorably than we have in past years."
The report shows the child poverty rate has fallen from the previous year's level, but remains high. Between 2007 and 2008, the percentage of Alabama children living in poverty fell from 24 percent to 22 percent—although it remains higher than its 2000 rate. A family of two adults and two children were considered poor if their income in 2008 fell below $21,834. The state's child poverty rate remains higher than the national rate of 18 percent.
The percent of low birth-weight babies continues reversal from earlier years. Although the percentage of low birth-weight babies in Alabama remains higher than it was in 2000, it has declined slightly in recent years.
The teen birth rate did not change from previous year's level. After steadily declining since 2000, the birth rate for teens age 15 to 19 in Alabama did not change between 2006 and 2007.
Children do well when their parents have opportunities and are employed in good paying jobs. Tilly says she is pleased to see that the percentage of children living in poverty has dropped from the previous year's level. However, she is concerned that the state's current high unemployment rate will negate the progress made.
"While we don't know how the current economic climate will affect child poverty numbers and other KIDS COUNT indicators, we do know our policy makers need to act now to ensure that programs like child health insurance, high quality pre-k, child advocacy centers, and child abuse and neglect prevent programs are well funded and available," said Tilly.
"As we consider which candidates we will support in this election year, we need to select those who understand that what we do for Alabama's children now, especially young children, will dramatically impact the economic vitality of our state as they become adult workers and consumers. We need leaders with a vision that extends beyond four years," said Tilly.
The 21st annual Data Book is complemented by the expanded KIDS COUNT Data Center, which contains hundreds of measures of child well-being and allows users to create maps and graphs of the data at the national, state, county, and city level. To access information for Alabama go to http://datacenter.kidscount.org/al.