The 2007 Kids Count Missouri Data Book shows a number of positive changes for Missouri’s children including an overall decrease in the rates of child abuse and neglect between 2002 and 2006. The annual publication, issued by Citizens For Missouri’s Children (CMC), is a collaborative project of more than 30 public and private organizations from across the state. The book provides information on measures of child well-being for the entire state, county by county, covering areas such as health, education, financial security, juvenile justice and child protection. Data for the report is compiled from more than 80 federal, state, county and municipal sources by the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis (OSEDA) at the University of Missouri. Primary funding for the project is provided by the Children’s Trust Fund, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Health Care USA.
By highlighting trends and comparing geographic areas, the Kids Count Project provides valuable information to Missouri citizens including policymakers, advocates, and professionals about the condition of families and children, gaps in services and unmet needs.
According to Sheila Bader, Interim Executive Director for CMC, there were many improvements in a number of measures for child well-being including a decrease in the rates of child abuse and neglect, child deaths, out of home placements, violent teen deaths, births to mothers without a high school diploma and several other indicators. Unfortunately, 2007 saw a number of measures not improving including children enrolled in free or reduced price lunch, children receiving food stamps, annual high school dropouts, births to teens, low birth weight infants and infant mortality.
For the second year in a row St. Charles County was ranked as the state’s most child-friendly area, based on a composite of all Kids Count measures. Platte County, located just north of Kansas City, was second, followed by Nodaway, Clay and Andrew Counties. St. Louis City ranked last in the composite rankings with the southeast Missouri counties of Pemiscot, Dunklin, McDonald and Ripley rounding out the bottom five. The state’s two largest counties, St. Louis County and Jackson County, ranked 16th and 77th respectively.
The entire Kids Count report can be viewed on CMC’s website at www.mokids.org or at OSEDA – http://oseda.missouri.edu/kidscount/.
Kirksville Daily Express – 2/26/08
Springfield News Leader – 2/20/08