RALEIGH A report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore, Md., ranks North Carolina 38th in the nationa slight improvement from 39th in 2007on 10 key indicators of child well-being, including family income, health and education. "North Carolina's change in rank is driven more by the performance of other states than by significant changes in the numbers for North Carolina's children," said Barbara Bradley, President and CEO of Action for Children North Carolina. "It is crystal clear that more work remains to be done. Infant well-being in our state has stalled, the percent of low birth-weight babies hovers at 9% and the infant mortality rate has climbed slightly to 8.8 per 1,000 live births." Fortunately for older children, aged 16 to 19, North Carolina has decreased the number of children not in school and not working by 27% since 2000. "Transitioning young people into productive roles in the economy and ensuring they have a sound basic education to be successful is essential to the long-term growth of North Carolina's economy," said Bradley. However, North Carolina's children have seen no significant improvement in the security of their parents employment. As of 2006, one-in-three children in the state have parents without secure employment. "The continued transformation of North Carolinas economy could partly be driving this finding, said Bradley. Clearly, North Carolina needs to redouble efforts to provide greater support so that parents can meet their childrens basic needs." This year the Annie E. Casey KIDS COUNT Data Book examines our national obligations to youth in the criminal justice system in order to highlight that our nations juvenile justice systems are within reach of a fundamental, essential and long-overdue transformation. Promising reforms are now well underway in a number of jurisdictions, and the foundations for deeper and more systemic change are firmly established. Data show that in 2006, North Carolinas rate of detained and committed youth in custody (per 100,000 youth ages 10-15) was 82, which was far lower than a rate of 125 per 100,000 youth for the nation. That year, the states estimated daily count of detained and committed youth in custody was 1,029 youth. Of these youth, 59% were in custody for non-violent offenses, slightly lower than the 66% for the nation. "North Carolina remains one of only three states to automatically try and sentence children aged 16 and 17 as adults for any crime and thus these figures present only part of the picture," said Bradley. "What's important to realize is that in 2004, in North Carolina, more 16- and 17-year-olds had contact with the adult system than the entire population in the juvenile system. Research shows that trying youth as adults increases violence and crime and puts young offenders in danger of abuse and suicide. Research supports the need to offer our youth a developmentally appropriate, research based continuum of services, not simply punishment. We are poised to turn a crucial corner, both nationally and at the state level. The time for reform is now." Offering a series of models based on evidence-based programs, the Data Book calls for state and local leaders, in particular, to reaffirm their commitment to juvenile justice reform and to take steps to ensure the dual outcomes of positive youth outcomes and improved public safety. Base-year data used in the KIDS COUNT Data Book are from year 2000, with current year data being from year 2005 or 2006. Only Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Alabama, New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi ranked worse than North Carolina. This is the 19th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It examines key indicators of child well-being across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The indicators presented in the KIDS COUNT Data Book include infant mortality, child and teen deaths, teen births, teen dropouts and child poverty. The attached chart shows North Carolinas statistics and rankings on each indicator compared to the national average. The 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book is available online at www.ncchild.org.
Action for Children North Carolina is a leading statewide nonprofit organization based in Raleigh. Since its founding in 1983, Action for Children has been the leading voice for North Carolinas children. Current efforts are focused in the following major areas: Health, Safety, Early Care, Education, Family Economic Issues, Child Maltreatment and Juvenile Justice. Action for Children is the KIDS COUNT partner in North Carolina and the state affiliate of the national organization, Voices for Americas Children. For more information, visit www.ncchild.org.
Action for Children North Carolina