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'08 Kids Count Report Shows Glimmers of Hope for Ohio’s Kids

January 30, 2009

Columbus, OH - There's good news and bad news in the new Ohio Kids Count 2008 Data Book. The annual barometer of child wellbeing in Ohio cites some improvements in the areas of education and safety, as well as an increase in graduation rates for black students, and a drop in the number of kids who end up in court for offenses, referred to as the youth adjudication rate.

While it's great to see progress, says Kids Count Project Director Barbara Turpin, there also are troubling trends in the report, in terms of families' economic security and healthcare.

"Around poverty, there's been an increase of 25 percent; around health, there's been a 50 percent increase in children in the public healthcare system."

Given the economic downturn, Turpin believes the poverty and related healthcare rates are likely to increase in future Data Book editions. This book compiles figures from 2001 to 2006, including data by county, and pinpoints areas where progress is being made.

"We've broken it down from economic security, health, safety, and education. Within those categories, we've also highlighted some promising programs that we think could be replicated throughout the state."

The report gives kudos, for instance, to programs such as Summit County's Family Resource Center, Cincinnati's Childhood Food Solutions, and the Positive Education Program in Cuyahoga County. Turpin points out that all are helping Ohio children stay healthy and succeed.

Children's advocates are hopeful for improvements in other indicators, especially after Gov. Strickland's recently announced plans for an education overhaul. The full report can be viewed online, at www.childrensdefense.org/ohio.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH