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Kids in state faring slightly better

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While the well-being of North Carolina children has improved slightly over the last year, the state still trails most of the nation on almost all indicators, a new study says.

North Carolina now ranks 39th in the U.S. in child well-being, up from 41st, says the 2007 Kids Count Data Book published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Each year the study analyzes key indicators of the status of the nation’s children, including income levels, infant mortality, education and health insurance.

The news is mixed for North Carolina kids.

The state’s infant mortality rate of 8.8 deaths per 1,000 births is worse than in all but four states, the study says.

And on almost all other indicators, North Carolina falls in the bottom half of the rankings, the report says, including babies with low birth weights, teen deaths, children in poverty, and children lacking health insurance.

But North Carolina ranks third-best in the percentage of two-year-old children who have received their immunizations, and the state’s children are less likely to be removed from their homes and placed in foster care than average.

The well-being of foster care is a particular focus of the 2007 data book, which says older children and children of color are the most likely to be removed from their homes and placed in foster or other out-of-home care.

The report urges federal and state lawmakers to enact policies that would improve the care of foster kids, including involving children in decisions about their care, placing children with extended family when possible and altering federal financing to help prevent the removal of kids from their homes.

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