Growing up in Winnebago County can be tough for many kids, that according to the latest Illinois Kids Count survey.
While our area is making a lot of headway, there are still many trouble spots.
Childhood is supposed to be a time of sweet fun, critical development and experimentation. But many Winnebago County kids face challenges at an early age that some people never see in a lifetime.
"There are many children ages birth through five within Rockford District 205 who could benefit from services, who are not getting them," said Judy Johnson, Rockford Public Schools Early Childhood.
The latest Kids Count survey shows that Winnebago County's rate of child abuse is almost 12 out of every 1,000 kids, close to double the state average.
And on the education front, the county's graduate rate is just under 80 percent while the state average is three percentage points higher. Poverty is also a growing concern.
Experts say Early Childhood Development programs can improve the quality of life for area kids. While these programs are often the targets of budget cuts, many say they actually save the state money.
"What we know early childhood development does is prevent very costly services down the road. So for every dollar spent on early childhood education, calculate a seven dollar savings down the road," Johnson said.
The study did reveal some bright spots. The number of kids with health insurance continues to climb and the number of children receiving welfare is falling.
But the survey says there is still a lot of building and improvement to be done to help for Stateline kids.
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- KIDS COUNT is a national and state-by-state project of the Casey Foundation to track the status of children in the United States.
- At the national level, the principal activity of the initiative is the publication of the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, which uses the best available data to measure the educational, social, economic, and physical well-being of children state by state.
- The foundation also funds a national network of state-level KIDS COUNT projects that provide a more detailed, county-by-county picture of the condition of children.
- The first national KIDS COUNT Data Book was published in 1990.
- KIDS COUNT exists to measure child outcomes and contribute to public accountability for those outcomes, resulting in a model for data-driven advocacy for children, their families, and their communities.
- There are currently 10 KIDS COUNT measures: percent low birth-weight babies; infant mortality rate; child death rate; rate of teen deaths by accident, homicide, and suicide; teen birth rate; percent of children living with parents who do not have full-time, year-round employment; percent of teens who are high school dropouts; percent of teens not attending school and not working; percent of children in poverty; and percent of families with children headed by a single-parent.
Source: www.aecf.org (The Anne E. Casey Foundation Web site) contributed to this report.