SC improves to 39th in children’s well-being

Sue Williams, CEO of Children's Trust of SC, talks about the annual Kids Count data Tuesday at the Statehouse.

COLUMBIA, SC – South Carolina improved to 39th nationwide in the latest Kids Count annual report on children’s well-being, an improvement over 41st last year. North Carolina ranks 33rd, while Florida is 40th and Georgia is 42nd. New Hampshire ranks first.

Children’s Trust of South Carolina CEO Sue Williams says the improvement comes from a combination of an improving economy and policies that help families and children. “We are encouraged by the favorable data, including a 23 percent decrease in the number of students not graduating high school on time, a 56 percent decrease in the number of children without health insurance, a 40 percent decline since 2010 in the teen birth rate, and a 14 percent decline in children whose head of household lacks a high school diploma,” she said at a Statehouse news conference Tuesday.

The state also saw an improvement in the percentage of fourth-grade students who are proficient in reading. State education superintendent Molly Spearman said, “And we know that that’s going to get even stronger because we’re working with our Read to Succeed program, so we know that in two years we’re going to have even stronger results.”

The state’s improving economy helped the statistics in a number of ways. The number of children living in poverty went from 26 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2015. Children whose parents lack secure employment dropped from 37 percent to 31 percent.

However, there is room for improvement. Young children not in school went from 50 percent up to 55, and eighth graders not proficient in math went from 70 percent in 2009 up to 74 percent in 2015. And while the percentage of fourth graders proficient in reading improved, there are still 67 percent who are not proficient.

You can see the entire Kids Count report here.