Eye On Boise

New 'Kids Count' report shows Idaho kids suffered setbacks in recession

A new report shows the well-being of Idaho's children has improved overall in the past decade, but the percentage of kids living in poverty and teens who have dropped out and don't have jobs has increased amid the recession, the Associated Press reports; click below for their full report on the latest "Kids Count" report.

Report: Idaho kids suffer setbacks amid recession

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A new report shows the well-being of Idaho's children has improved overall in the past decade, but the percentage of kids living in poverty and teens who have dropped out and don't have jobs has increased amid the recession.

Idaho ranked 22nd overall on state-by-state rankings Wednesday in the annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The well-being of Idaho children has improved overall since 2000, when the state was ranked 25th. But the study found Idaho's youngest residents suffered setbacks amid the financial downturn.

The percentage of teens who aren't in school and don't have jobs increased from 8 percent in 2008 to 9 percent in 2009, according to the data. At the same time, the percentage of children living in poverty statewide increased from 16 percent to 18 percent.

Idaho is among states where gains made in the fight against child poverty during the 1990s were lost during the recession, according to the report.

"We need to really be concerned about the growing number of children in poverty," said Lauren Necochea, project director for Idaho Kids Count. "Our poverty rates are growing faster than the rest of the nation and that has long-term consequences."

For example, the report says the nationwide child poverty rate increased by 18 percent between 2000 and 2009. In Idaho, the change was more dramatic, and the child poverty rated increased by 29 percent during that same time.

The consequences include children who are less likely to read at grade level or graduate from high school, Necochea said.

"Poverty creates a setback that children may not be able to recover from," she said.

Idaho's child well-being numbers worsened in two other areas from 2000 to 2009, with an increased teen death rate and more children living in single-parent families. But the state improved in four areas, including fewer low birth-weight babies and lower infant mortality rates, a development that can likely be attributed to better prenatal care and lower smoking rates, Necochea said.

Idaho's teen birth and dropout rates have also improved since 2000.

___

Online:

http://www.kidscount.org

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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