By Lauren Horsch
Durham Herald Sun
DURHAM — In the annual “Kids Count Data Book” report released by the Annie E. Case Foundation, it was found that one in four children across North Carolina lives in poverty, a 25 percent increase since the economic downturn of 2008.
That puts North Carolina in a tie with Texas and Kentucky for having the 11 highest child poverty rate in the country.
The report shows that the state’s children are being left behind during modest economic recovery, placing them at greater risk for academic, health and social difficulties later in life.
“The gap between states with the best and worst child well-being is stark — and North Carolina sits on the wrong side of that divide,” Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child, said in a statement concerning the report. NC Child is a state advocacy group that works to improve child well-being.
“In order for our children to thrive and our state to excel now and in the future, North Carolina needs to work on the fundamentals of healthy child development: support strong and stable families, build safe and nurturing communities and promote high-quality schools,” she said.
In Durham County almost 28 percent of children live in poverty according to data from the report. In 2012, some 17,204 children lived in poverty within the county, a slight increase from 2011when 16,712 — about 27.2 percent — lived in poverty.
Nationally, the study found about 22 percent of children live in poverty.
Statewide, the report also found that one in three children live in a family where parents lack secure employment. That is an increase of 14 percent.
Durham County had an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in 2012, compared to the state’s 9.5 percent.
When it comes to education, the report found that from the 2011-12 school year the daily average membership in Durham County was 32,332 — which is the average number of students in the school system on any given day.
Along with that, approximately 77 percent of students in the county who start their freshman year of high school graduate after four years or earlier.
Statewide during the 2011-12 school year about 56 percent of students were on free and reduced lunch. In Durham County during that same time frame nearly 64 percent of students were on free and reduced lunch.
The report also found that one in 11 teens across the state — about 9 percent — is out of school and not working.
When it comes to neighboring counties, many are in the same boat.
Chatham County’s unemployment rate in 2012 according to the report came in at about 7.4 percent.
Children living in poverty however, came in at about 20.3 percent, an increase from the previous year’s data — which was nearly 19 percent.
Granville County’s unemployment rate during the same time was about 9.6 percent, which was down from 2011’s rate which rang in at about 10.5 percent.
However, the number of children living in poverty in Granville grew from 20.8 percent in 2011 to 25 percent in 2012.
Orange County however saw a decrease in not only unemployment but also the amount of children in poverty between 2011 and 2012.
Orange saw 6.2 percent unemployment in 2012, down slightly from the previous year’s 6.7 percent.
In 2011 it also saw about 16.8 percent of its children living in poverty. That dipped to 15.3 percent in 2012.
Person County likewise saw drops in unemployment and the number of children living in poverty.
In 2012 Person County saw unemployment come in at 9.7 percent, compared to 10.6 percent the year before.
The amount of children living in poverty dropped almost 2 percent, from 25.2 percent in 2011 to 23.8 percent in 2012.
While some of the numbers show a growing concern about our state’s children, there are some less sobering numbers.
The reports shows that the amount of children without health insurance declined by 40 percent. The percentage is now 6 percent, the lowest in state history.