For the third year in a row, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book ranked Georgia 42nd overall. The KIDS COUNT report ranks states by measuring the health and safety of children using a variety of indicators. Georgia ranked in the bottom half of all indicators nationally.
The study found 37 percent of Georgia children lived in a single-parent household in 2009, a 1 percent increase from the year before, ranking Georgia 41st in the nation in this category.
Georgia saw increases in almost every measurement including:
- Children living in poverty (+2 percent)
- Children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment (+4 percent)
- Teens aged 16-19 not in school and not working (+1 percent)
- Teen deaths from all causes (+2 percent)
Only two measurements improved: The teen birth rate declined across all age groups and the number of teens aged 16 to 19 not in high school, who have not graduated fell by one percent. The infant mortality rate also dropped but only by 0.1 percent.
The economy was the trigger for many of the deteriorating numbers, including the increase in children living in poverty, says Heidi Reese-Anderson, client services coordinator with the Juvenile Justice Fund, an Atlanta-based child advocacy organization.
”The borderline individuals or families with children that were just making it by, having a place to live and feeding their families on a very low income -– that borderline is no longer a borderline,” Reese-Anderson said. As a result many children were suddenly, “homeless, hungry and neglected because their parents couldn’t maintain the little that they were holding on to before.”
According to Reese-Anderson, Georgia’s numbers will likely get worse before they get better, especially as the economy flirts with another recession.