By Whitney Tucker
In a post earlier today we told you the good news from this year’s Child Health Report Card. Now we take a look at some of the worst grades (we’ll cover opportunities for the NC legislature in our third and final post tomorrow). You can read the full 2018 Child Health Report Card here.
F in Housing & Family Financial Security. Family financial security is one of the most impactful determinants of children’s health. Children who live in poverty, particularly during early childhood, are at risk of poor health outcomes throughout their lives. Children living in financially secure families are more likely to achieve educational success and grow to be healthy, self-sufficient adults. Almost half of North Carolina’s kids live in poor or low-income households (defined as less than 200% of the federal poverty level). 28% of children live in households spending over 30% of income on housing costs.
D for Birth Outcomes. NC ranks 42nd in the nation for infant mortality, with an infant mortality rate holding steady at 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. This number has hardly moved since 2010 (7.0 deaths per 1,000 live births).
D for School Health. Few school districts in North Carolina meet the recommended school nurse ratio of 1 nurse for every 750 children. Statewide, the average ratio is 1:1,072. School nurses are a particularly vital resource for students living in poverty, who often face barriers to managing chronic conditions or receiving preventive care.
D in Mental Health. 9.3% of North Carolina high school students attempted suicide in the past year, an increase of 86% from 2011. In North Carolina between 2011 and 2015, suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death for youth age 15 to 17.
D in Child Abuse & Neglect. 28 children in North Carolina died from child abuse in 2016, a number that has not moved since 2012. Investigations of child abuse are down somewhat since 2012, with 5.6% of children investigated for child abuse & neglect in 2016 (down 5.1% since 2012). Adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect or poverty can negatively affect brain development and increase risk for physical and behavioral health problems later in life.
D for Children In Out-of-Home Care. The rate of children in foster care who exit to permanent homes within 24 months declined in 2016 to 65.2% (down 5.6% since 2012). Providing children with safe and stable homes, relationships, and environments can protect against the impact of adverse childhood experiences, improve health, and generate increased financial security.
Stay tuned tomorrow as we highlight opportunities for the North Carolina Legislature to reverse some of these negative trends, and to build on the state’s strongest child health indicators.