National Study Shows Improvements in NC Child Health & Education
A national report ranks North Carolina 35th in the nation in child well-being.
According to the study, North Carolina has made long-term progress in child health, despite continued economic setbacks. Laila Bell is with Action for Children North Carolina. She says the report shows more children are covered by health insurance.
“The percentage of children without health insurance declined about 20 percent and that is a result of strategic investments that we have made as a state in programs like Medicaid and NC Health Choice that help preserve children’s access to health insurance,” says Bell.
The report also shows improvements in North Carolina’s education system. The percentage of high school students not graduating on time declined.
"The percentage of high school students not graduating dropped 23 percent in 2009-2010, down 18 percent since the 2005-2006 school year. We are making progress in that area,” says Bell.
But Bell says the state still has a long way to go in addressing childhood poverty issues. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 29.5 percent of children in Forsyth County and 23.6 percent of children in Guilford County lived in poverty in 2011.
The study points out more than one in four children in North Carolina, or 26 percent now lives in poverty. She says high unemployment rates and stagnant wages are hurting many families across the state.
Bell says the report also raises another red flag.
“The percent of low birth rate babies stayed relatively flat during the period of analysis and we know that babies born with low birth weight are more likely to experience chronic health issues in life, like heart disease and diabetes. We definitely want to look at that indicator as a cause for concern and a call to action in the future,” says Bell.
According to the report, North Carolina ranks 44th in the nation for low-birthweight births.