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"D" for Disturbing? OR's New Grade for Child Well-Being

October 21, 2008

Portland, OR – It's not Oregon kids who are failing, it's the system that's failing them. The new annual report card from Children First for Oregon gives the state a "D" for child well-being for the second year in a row. The report rates the progress the state made in 2007 on its goals: reducing child poverty, neglect and abuse, and improving health care, education, child care and the financial stability of families.

Cathy Kaufmann, policy and communications director for Children First, says there were a few improvements over the previous year, but not enough to raise the overall grade.

"We saw a very slight increase in childhood poverty. We saw a slight increase in the number of children who aren't receiving immunizations in a timely fashion. We continue to see incredibly high rates of uninsured children."

Kaufmann says more than 100,000 Oregon children are uninsured, and changing that should be the next legislature's top priority.

"We're going to see those un-insurance rates rise as more and more parents lose their jobs. We've got ways to fund health coverage for children. It's absolutely the best thing we can do for a family's pocketbook."

On the positive side of the report, infant mortality and teen pregnancies have declined, as well as the rates of child abuse and neglect. Most of the state goals are for 2010, giving Oregon about two more years to meet them.

Unfortunately, they'll be lean budget years, Kaufmann predicts. Her group is launching a new campaign with the goal of bringing the state's grade up to an "A" by the year 2020.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR