Number of poor children living in Rutherford County increase

According to latest child health report card
Nov. 30, 2012 @ 05:45 AM

FOREST CITY —  North Carolina's future prosperity is shaped by children's health status, as well as where they live, learn, and grow, according to a new report by Action for Children North Carolina and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine. 

The 18th annual North Carolina Child Health Report Card  released this week shows some of the status numbers for Rutherford County's children, birth to 18 years, are higher than the state average.

Child poverty increased in Rutherford County over the past year ,and data shows the 2011 poverty rate for children under age 5 is 37.7 percent and under age 18, the poverty rate is 30.3 percent, higher than the stage average.

Child poverty rates in the state, also increased, 25.6 percent for 2011 up from 20.2 percent in 2006.

Among children most susceptible to the negative effects of poverty — children under age five — the poverty rate was even higher at 30.3 percent.

Statewide the report shows important progress in efforts to address some fundamental factors that shape child health, despite continued challenges, said Deborah Bryan, President & CEO of Action for Children North Carolina.

"Good health forms a foundation for future academic, economic and social success," Bryan said, in a statement. "When children grow up healthy, safe and connected to resources that enable them to thrive, they are more likely to find gainful employment, have stable families, and be active and productive members of their communities."

The report shows important progress in efforts to address some of fundamental factors that shape child health, despite continued challenges.

The North Carolina's graduation rate reached 80 percent, a significant improvement from five years ago. In Rutherford County graduation rate was less than the state with 73.3 percent graduating.

Other highlights from the 2012 North Carolina Child Health Report Card include:

• Medicaid and North Carolina Health Choice continued to preserve children's access to health insurance coverage despite persistent, high poverty and unemployment rates in the state. Together, the programs provide coverage to one in every two children in North Carolina (1.1 million) under age 18.

• In Rutherford County, 42.6 percent children were enrolled in Medicaid, receiving preventive care; 7,633 children under Medicaid and 1,145 under Health Choice.

• The percent of children with untreated tooth decay in kindergarten was 21.0 percent and 15 percent across the state. Children with one or more sealants in grade five was 44 percent, the same across the state. 

• The percentage of Rutherford County's eligibile children receiving Medicaid dental service — 55.5 percent for ages 1-5; 67.0 percent for ages 6-14 and 53.6 percent for ages 15-50.

• The percentage of infants in North Carolina born weighing less than 5 lbs., 5 oz. (9.1 percent) remained unchanged between 2006 and 2011. In Rutherford County, the percent of infants born weighing less than 5 lbs., 5 ounces were 10.9 percent.

• The report says 2011, eight children, ages birth to 17, died in Rutherford County. One death was the result of a motor vehicle accident.

• The number of children in Rutherford County receiving assessment for abuse and neglect were 753 and substantiated as victims of abuse or neglect were 101 children.

• The recurrence of maltreatment was 4.3 percent in 2011; across the state 7.7 percent.

In addition to addressing traditional health outcomes, the report card explores the relationship between social determinants of health — variations in living circumstances such as income, access to health care, educational achievement, neighborhood quality, and environment — and children's health outcomes. Research shows that social determinants of health, although important for all age groups, are especially influential for children because they shape early child development and affect future opportunities for health throughout the life span.

Advocates say addressing the social determinants of health is not the sole responsibility of the health sector.

"Across the state we are seeing exciting new partnerships emerge between the public sector and nonprofits to address the fundamental factors that shape our children's health," said Bryan. "We hope that the North Carolina General Assembly will prioritize evidence-based programs and policies that promote economically secure families and high-quality education as part of a comprehensive approach to improving children's health and well-being in North Carolina."