County 29th in child well being

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Covington County is ranked 29th in the state when it comes to the overall well being of its children, according to a national study released Tuesday.

The 2010 Alabama Kids Count Data Book ranked each of the state’s 67 counties when it comes to overall indicators in health, education, safety and security of the child population. The study measured issues such as low birth weight, births to unmarried teens, children in poverty, the percentage of teens not attending school and not working, the number of children in single-parent homes and high school graduation rates.

Local numbers showed an infant mortality rate of 11.3 percent of live births in 2009.

The county also recorded 55 births to unmarried teens. Of those, 44 were to white girls and 11 to black girls, ranking Covington County 41st in the state in percentages of births to teens.

Overall numbers also show in 2009:

• 90 reports of children with indications of abuse or neglect, placing the county 35th in the state.

• 2,098 total children live in poverty in the county, placing the county 32nd in the state.

• 2,000 children lived in single-parent families, placing the county 28th in the state.

• graduated 333 teens graduated, bringing the county’s graduation rate to 65 percent overall.

The report is intended to gauge the seriousness of the problems facing children, and to guide the policy trends and goals on behalf of children.

It’s also a report that reflects the strides county officials have made to correct those problems, Judge Trippy McGuire said.

McGuire also serves on the Covington County Children’s Policy Council Coalition, a local organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families through support and resources.

“I’m very pleased to see (the county) come up in its number,” McGuire said. “In years past, we fell in the high 30s, so to see us make gains is outstanding.

“It all starts in the family,” he said of the gain. “I’d like to think that more parents are being parents and being more responsible. If core values are not learned in the home, those children aren’t going to get them.”

McGuire said the CCCPCC works to help parents make connections with their children, that will hopefully, keep them from becoming a statistic.

“We are getting the word out to parents – talk to your children,” he said. “Spend time with them, read to them, help them with their homework and talk about the temptations they face. It will make all the difference, because even if you don’t think so, they’re listening.”

Presley Bates, Nicole Frank, Mia Baumgartner and Jackson Odom play outside the LBWCC child development center. | Stephanie Nelson/Star News