Overall well-being of county’s children near bottom

Published 9:35 am Thursday, November 21, 2013

Butler County ranks 53rd among Alabama’s 67 counties in overall ratings of child well-being, according to the 2013 Alabama Kids Count Data Book released Wednesday by VOICES for Alabama’s Children.

The overall county rankings were based on five factors: low weight births, births to unmarried teens, children in single-parent families, children in poverty, and high school graduation rate.

In 2012, Butler County ranked 49th.

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The publication follows the June release of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s national KIDS COUNT Data Book, which compares the well-being of children in each state. Alabama ranked 44th in that report — the state’s best ranking in overall child well-being since the Data Book began publication in 1990.

“Despite the Great Recession and other challenges Alabama is making progress for its children,” said Linda Tilly, executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children.  “Over the past 20 years data has given both advocates and policymakers a true picture of how our children are doing and where we need to make improvements if Alabama is to be all that it can be in the future.”

According to the study released Wednesday, 24.1 percent of Butler County residents are living below the poverty level. That figure is down from 28.1 percent in 2012.

Butler County ranks 10th in the state in infant mortality rates. In 2012, the county ranked 22nd.

The latest figures also showed that Butler County ranked 25th in low weight births and 48th in births to unmarried teens. The county also ranks 43rd in children with an indication of abuse or neglect and 31st in preventable teen death rate.