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KIDS COUNT Report: Highs and Lows for OR Children & Teens

August 18, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. - In the new KIDS COUNT data released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Oregon's report card is mixed. The annual rankings summarize the 10 major indicators of child health/well-being and economic factors that affect children.

Some of the most dramatic numbers reflect what the kids' parents are going through. Thirteen percent of Oregon children, or more than 110,000, live in homes with at least one unemployed parent, and 34 percent are in homes where no parent has full-time, year-round work.

Mary Lou Hennrich, executive director of the Community Health Partnership, says these economic factors cannot help but affect a family's health.

"It absolutely correlates with people's income and education, because education is correlated with income. But if people had adequate income, their health would be better and is better. Poverty is the root cause of ill health."

The report says the number of children in poverty in Oregon is up 6 percent since 2000, and 40,000 children in the state have been affected by foreclosures since 2007. On the bright side, five of the 10 indicators have shown improvement, including lower teen birth rates and lower death rates for children of all ages.

More than 350,000 lower-income children are now enrolled in the Oregon Healthy Kids insurance program, administrator Cathy Kaufmann says, so more kids are getting the medical care they need.

"We've actually cut our child un-insurance rate in half in less than two years. That's a big win for the state and, obviously, good news for the health of our kids."

Overall, KIDS COUNT ranks Oregon 18th among the states for child health and well-being.

The report is available at

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR