Child well being ranks lowPublished 11:27pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Although Alabama has moved up in the rankings in the most recent 2013 Kids County Data Book — sitting at a low 44th — we still have a long way to go. According to the Data Book, which ranks child well being in terms of health, education, economic well being and family and community, the state has made strong strides in areas of health and education. However, the number of children living in poverty and single parent homes are on the rise.
According to the Data Book’s most recent county survey, Dallas County had 56.5 percent of children living in poverty, compared to 27.4 percent of the state. In 2010, 58.8 percent of children in Dallas County were reported living in single-parent homes while the state showed a slimmer 34 percent.
These are just a few examples of Dallas County demonstrating worse living conditions for children compared to the state level. Dallas County also showed 15.8 percent of children living in vulnerable families while the state had a smaller 11.3 percent.
These numbers should serve as a wake up call, and a motivator to do better for our children and give them a more nurturing environment to grow up in. It’s been proven countless times that a strong future begins with a strong educational base. We need to make sure our children are receiving pre-K opportunities and not beginning school with an educational gap, which many of our area youth are.
Linda Tilly, executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children, said there are several ways the state and Dallas County can work towards achieving better child well being. Incorporating the Alabama Science and Math Technology Initiative (AMSTI) in all elementary schools and conducting more child care inspections are two suggestions Tilly had for improving child well being in Alabama.
“We should all acknowledge this momentum and ask ourselves what can we do to keep moving,” Tilly said of the Data Book results, and the state’s improvement. “There’s been a lot of improvement in the past years and I believe we can do much, much better.”
We couldn’t agree more with Tilly in this statement, and also believe that Dallas County can do much, much better in terms of overall child well being. We encourage local school officials and administrations to treat the Data Book’s findings as a starting point in a heavy push to put Dallas County to the top of the charts in the state for child well being. We encourage Alabama — as a whole — to do better, and move up in these dismal rankings.