From staff reports

Alabama may be the third-worst state in the nation for child health and well-being, but Limestone is faring better than other counties.

On Tuesday, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released statistics for individual counties for each state. Though Alabama had a poor national showing, Limestone County ranks fourth-best in the state for child health and well-being.

The counties that ranked higher were, in order, Shelby, Blount and Lee counties.

Several long-term trends held firm in the new state report, with First Grade Retention Rate, a measure of school readiness, Child Death Rate, Preventable Death Rate and Vulnerable Families all continuing to improve.

The Vulnerable Families measure indicates first births to teen mothers who have not completed high school, a combination that presents problems for both teen mother and child, according to a press release from VOICES for Alabama’s Children. Infants with a low birth rate was a trend that also continued to worsen statewide.

“While long term trends give us the best picture of how conditions for children in Alabama are changing, it is difficult not to compare some numbers to those of last year,” said Linda Tilly, executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children. “The good news when looking at last year is that the graduation rate for the state increased from 61.7 percent to 65.8 percent.”

She said factors that cause concern is the child poverty rate, which jumped from 21.1 percent to 24.6 percent.

“It is extremely alarming that nearly a quarter of our children live in poverty,” Tilly said. “Research shows that, especially for young children, the negative effects of poverty are long term.”

Limestone County’s 2010 population was 82,782, with 21,769 of those being children. Other statistics of note in the Kids County Survey include:

• The county’s median income in 2010 was $46,610, though 54 families were classified as being “vulnerable”;

• There are 4,250 children in single-parent families;

• 13.5 percent of residents live below the poverty level, including 3,543 children;

• 63.4 percent of employed mothers have young children;

• 79.4 percent of women receive first trimester prenatal care;

• 69.1 percent of women receive adequate prenatal care; and

• 10.5 percent of the county’s teens don’t attend school and don’t have jobs.

Though Limestone ranked fourth in child poverty, it ranked lower in other statistics, including:

• Sixth in single-parent families;

• Eighth in child death rate;

• Ninth in births to unmarried teens;

• 11th in children with indications of abuse or neglect;

• 14th in preventable teen death rate;

• 15th in juvenile violent crime court petition rate;

• 19th in vulnerable families;

• 23rd in infant mortality rate;

• 23rd in first-grade retention; and

• 29th in low weight births.


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