Oregon ranks 41st in the nation in education, according to the 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book, while ranking 31st overall in child well-being.
According to a press release, the 30th edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book is the most comprehensive annual report of child well-being in the United States. The report was released on June 17.
Indicators used to determine child well-being are education, economic well-being, health and family and community context.
“This is a call for decision makers to continue to invest in programs and services that will support the whole child so they have opportunities to grow up in economically secure families, have safe and stable homes and access to a strong education, as well as a community that invests in keeping them safe,” said Jenifer Wagley said, executive director of Children First for Oregon. “This is what sets up children to thrive in their childhoods and well into adulthood.”
Children First for Oregon is a statewide, nonprofit organization that advocates for children.
Oregon was 29th in economic well-being and 20th in both health, and family and community context.
According to the data book, Oregon had the second worst graduation rate in the country, which contributed to its low education ranking. Oregon improved from 43rd place and has been increasing graduation rates.
The Beaver State dropped one spot in economic well-being. Based on the latest data available, from 2017, 16% of children live in poverty compared to 22% in 2010 at the height of the recession.
“We know that in order for children to thrive, they need a minimum safe and stable housing and economic security,” Wagley said. “While fewer children are living in poverty, too many children in Oregon continue to face the impacts of systemic barriers and inequities both past and present and have been left an uneven playing field. Deep disparities persist for children of color, low-income children, children in immigrant families and children in rural communities.”
In Douglas County, the childhood poverty rate is 23.2%. Children make up approximately 19% of the population in Douglas County, with 21,206 residents between the ages of 0 and 17 in a county with 109,405 total residents.
Douglas County’s poverty hotspot was the area from Sutherlin to Roseburg, including Wilbur and Winchester, that area has 25% of Douglas County’s populations, 33% of its poor and 31% of its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program clients, according to Children First for Oregon.
Health-wise the state dropped from 16th to 20th. Contributing factors are an increasing number and percentage of low birth weight babies and a rise in child and teen death rate. The death rate for children and teens increased by 24% since 2010, the largest percent increase of any state.
Teen birth rates in Oregon have continued to decrease faster than the national average, with a 46% decline since 2010. Oregon ranks 35th in the nation when it comes to children living in families where the head of household lacks a high school diploma.