BY SUSAN TEBBEN
Ohio Capital Journal
Governor Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine spent Tuesday afternoon celebrating Ohio’s use of the free children’s book service Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which is nearing 50% participation for children under five. year.
But the shadow of poor child health and school truancy still hangs over the state, a new study finds.
A national analysis of everything from infant birth weights to high school graduation rates was released last week, and Ohio has worsened in areas such as child deaths and adolescents, economically disadvantaged students and low birth weight babies.
The state ranked 33rd in the nation for “family and community” indicators, 32nd in health, 28th in education, and 27th in child economic well-being, landing at 31st in the national data profile.
Chronic absenteeism has increased dramatically, from 7.5% in 2019-20 to 24% in 2020-21. Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Stephanie Siddens previously warned of this issue after the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person schooling across the state.
The state has not improved fourth-grade proficiency over the past decade, leaving 64% of grade-level students enrolled as non-proficient. More than half of eighth graders in Ohio lack math proficiency, though the rate fell from 64% in 2009 to 62% in 2019.
The “Kids Count” project came from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and includes annual breakdowns of the state of children’s wellbeing to “start a conversation about data-driven solutions to improve child outcomes”.
The Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio broke the data down even further, applying the Kids Count numbers to counties and districts.
“There are still many uncertainties and challenges ahead of us, but one thing is clear, we must do our best to ensure they are properly cared for in the midst of this pandemic,” said Tracy Najera, Director of State from the Children’s Defense Fund. -Ohio.
The percentage of low birth weight babies fell from 8.3% in 2020 to 8.7% last year, with children enrolled in Medicaid improving only slightly from 51.8% in 2020 to 51% in 2021, according to CDF-O analysis.
Figures from Kids Count showed worse child and adolescent death rates, at 28 per 100,000 in 2020.
The number of students considered economically disadvantaged increased between 2019 and 2021, from 47.3% to 48.4% of students.
The state has recorded positive trends, with the level of child poverty increasing from 18.1% in 2019 to 16.6% in 2020, and children receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from 29% to 25, 7% between 2020 and 2021.
The overall high school graduation rate increased from 85.9% in the 2019-2020 school year to 87.2% the following year, and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions are decreased from 8.8 per 100 pupils in 2019-2020 to 2.8 in 2020-21.
Teenage births to women aged 15-17 saw only a slight decline, from 6.8 per 1,000 teenage girls in 2020 to 6.2 in 2021.
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