Numbers show good, bad for N.D. youth
North Dakota kids are doing relatively well. Trouble is, there are fewer of them. The 2002 Kids Count fact book, released Friday in Fargo, says North Dakota ranks seventh nationally in children's overall health and well-being.
North Dakota kids are doing relatively well. Trouble is, there are fewer of them.
The 2002 Kids Count fact book, released Friday in Fargo, says North Dakota ranks seventh nationally in children's overall health and well-being. The ranking is based on such factors as education and economic condition.
"So there's good news," said Richard Rathge, executive director of North Dakota Kids Count.
But there's troubling news, too, he said.
The number of North Dakota kids under the age of 17 dropped by 8 percent during the past decade, according to the fact book.
And the number of children under the age of 5 dropped by at least 30 percent in nearly half of the state's counties from 1990 to 2000.
The decline doesn't bode well for the state, Rathge said.
"When you stop to think about it, children are our most valuable resource," he said.
He identified another cause for concern: About one in five North Dakota children lived in low-income working families in 1999.
However, there has been little change in the proportion of impoverished children in North Dakota over the past eight years, according to the fact book.
Cass County ranks ahead of the state average in several economic categories.
For instance, about 12 percent of Cass County kids under the age of 18 lived in poverty in 1998. Statewide, the figure was 17.3 percent.
Other highlights of the fact book include:
E North Dakota has the lowest percentage of teens dropping out of school in the nation.
E The state has the third-lowest rate of teen births in the nation.
E The state has the fourth-lowest rate of teens not attending school or not working in the nation.
The North Dakota project is one of 50 state projects sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore. The project also is supported by the Dakota Medical Foundation and the North Dakota Children's Coordinating Committee.
The project, now in its eighth year, recently moved from the University of North Dakota Department of Social Work to the North Dakota State Data Center at NDSU.
Friday, Helen Danielson was introduced as the project's new coordinator. She has many years of experience in early childhood development.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530