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Alabama's child economic well-being improved, study says

Updated: Jun. 29, 2018 at 9:49 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A new study shows Alabama ranked 38 in 2016 for economic well-being for children. This is according to 2018 Kids Count Data Book released Wednesday.

There are four factors the study uses to determine economic well-being. These include children in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in a household with a high housing cost burden and teens not in school and not working.

The study shows more parents have secure employment and pay less for housing in Alabama. Part of this can be attributed to the growing economy and job market.

The percentage of parents who lacked secure employment dropped six percentage points between 2010 and 2016. The number of children living in a household with a high housing cost burden decreased by eight percentage points.

"You have more families that are not spending 30 percent or more of their household budget just on housing costs," said Rhonda Mann, the interim executive director for VOICES for Alabama Children.

This results in less household stress and fewer children in poverty. The report says the percentage of Alabama children in poverty has decreased from 37 percent in 2010 to 31 percent in 2016.

"Poverty has such an impact on a child's life. It's that underlying thread that sort of interweaves itself into everything," Mann said.

Child poverty increases potential exposure to factors that affect brain development and academic achievement. According to the National Institutes of Health, some of these factors include increased family instability and greater exposure to violence.

The percentage of children in poverty has decreased from 28 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2016.

"The more successful children are, in education, the less chance they are going to participate in risky behavior," she said.

Another way to tell the economic well-being is by school participation. In Alabama the percentage of teens not in school has decreased from 11 percent in 2010 to nine percent in 2016.

"They are not dropping out they're not just finishing school and sitting around waiting for something to happen," Mann said. "They are being successful in school. And they are getting jobs and they are contributing back to the economy."

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