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After the Trump assassination attempt, defining democracy gets even harder; Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate; DC residents push back on natural gas infrastructure build-up a new law allows youth on Medi-Cal to consent to mental health treatment.

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Former President Trump is injured but safe after an attempted assassination many condemn political violence. Democrats' fears intensify over Biden's run. And North Carolina could require proof of citizenship to vote.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Report: Some progress, but low rankings, for MS kids' well-being

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024   

Mississippi ranks near the bottom among states for children's well-being, at 49th overall in the new Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The annual report looked at four categories: economic well-being, education, health, and community and family.

Linda Southward, executive director of the Children's Foundation of Mississippi, noted the Magnolia State ranked 30th in education. From timely prenatal care to the importance of early childhood education, she emphasized the critical starting points for kids' overall development and growth.

"Having children ready to learn and providing the supports as needed to help children learn to read by third grade," Southward emphasized. "Because up until third grade, they are learning to read but then by third grade, they are reading so they can learn."

Mississippi has shown improvement over the past five years, as the state's high school graduation rate has increased from 83% in 2018 to 88% and rates have increased across all subgroups.

Southward noted her organization is pleased Mississippi has improved in several of the 16 indicators. Although the state ranks 50th in economic well-being, fewer children are living in poverty and more parents have secure employment now than they did in 2019.

"When children are in households that are more secure economically, they often have more advantages in areas that they may need," Southward outlined. "For extracurricular activities, for having tutoring as they're needed."

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said the report encouraged states and communities to examine a number of approaches to help improve kids' well-being and address some of the pandemic's negative impacts.

"We know some of the things that work," Boissiere pointed out. "Both in remediating or providing additional supports for kids who may have fallen behind such as high-dosage tutoring, creating environments within schools where all kids feel like they can belong and looking at evidence-based curriculum approaches."

Boissiere stressed compared to peer nations, the United States is not equipping its children with the high-level reading, math and digital problem-solving skills needed for many of today's fastest-growing occupations in a competitive global economy.

Disclosure: The Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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