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North Carolina stalls on child well-being

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Barbara Bradley

Barbara Bradley

PJ staff report

RALEIGH, N.C. – After slowly climbing the ranks of child well-being over the past few years, North Carolina has stagnated at 37th in the U.S. for 2010, improving in some areas and losing ground in others, a new study says.

The ranking is based on 10 key indicators of child well-being from 2007 as determined by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and compiled in the KIDS COUNT data book, which includes data for all states in the U.S.

North Carolina’s infant mortality rate for 2007 stood at 8.5 deaths for every 1,000 live births, up slightly from 2006, but about the same as 10 years ago, and ranking 45th among all states.

But the percentage of babies born weighing less than 5 pounds 8 ounces has increased 5 percent over the past decade, with 9.2 percent of all babies born underweight in 2007.

While the birth rate among teen girls ages 15 to 19 stalled from 2006 to 2007 at 50 births per 1,000 girls, it has fallen 15 percent since 2000.

Teen death rates also have improved slightly over the past few years, falling to 67 for every 100,000 teenagers in 2007 from 80 per 100,000 in 2003.

Death rates among children have held steady at about 21 for every 100,000 kids for the past several years.

And while the child poverty rate is holding steady at about 20 percent as of 2008, 28 percent of North Carolina children lived in families in which neither parent had full-time, year-round employment.

“While we are making progress, our national ranking is a reminder that we have along way to go if we truly want North Carolina to be the best place to raise a child,” says Barbara Bradley, president and CEO of Action for Children North Carolina. “Public investments are critical for continued progress to occur. I fear that the budget reductions that have occurred as part of the current recession will cause future measures of child well-being to decline.”

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