OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington has some good news to report in the new KIDS COUNT Data Book
, an annual ranking of states that compares health and economic factors affecting children and teens.
From 2000 to 2009, the report says Washington's teen birth rate decreased, fewer young people dropped out of school and death rates are down for all ages of children.
The League of Women Voters of Washington
(LWVWA) uses KIDS COUNT data to help set priorities for the coming legislative session. Pat Dickason, LWVWA vice president, says where the state isn't faring so well is in putting parents to work.
"The most troubling to me are the percentages of children who are living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment. That's a third of the kids in Washington state."
LWVWA member Karen Tvedt says Washington's percentage of low-birthweight babies has increased, but the state still ranks third in the nation for making progress in that area. Washington ranks No. 1 for the lowest infant mortality rate.
"That says that we're doing some good things in support to prenatal care, and the commitment that our state has had to making sure that low-income moms and their babies have access to medical care."
However, one of the League's concerns is that the percentage of children in poverty in Washington, 16 percent, hasn't budged in 10 years. Tvedt isn't convinced the state can improve on that.
"And given what we're up against - the budget cuts at the state level in the past few years, and then with the ongoing cuts - I would wonder if those numbers are higher than that now."
The KIDS COUNT report also says 12 percent or 169,000 Washington children had at least one unemployed parent in 2010, and 68,000 have been affected by foreclosure since 2007. KIDS COUNT data has been collected for more than 20 years.