CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mixed results were found in the 2019 WV KIDS COUNT “State of Our Children” Data Book.
The findings were discussed Tuesday at the Edgewood Country Club in Charleston as part of the organization’s 30th Anniversary Summit.
“We are seeing increases in the rate of kids who are graduating from high school, we are seeing increases in the rate of children who are graduating high school on time,” Dr. Lindsay Allen, a Data Analyst for the organization with WVU School of Public Health said.
“On the flip side, we aren’t seeing the math and reading proficiency as we’d like to on the 8th-grade levels.”
Allen said just a quarter of eight grade students in the state are proficient in reading and math, according to their data presented by her and Dr. Tammy Collins of Marshall University.
Those numbers are better than the findings in the recent annual Balanced Scorecard released by the state school system. The data released September 12 showed 86 percent of West Virginia high schools don’t meet the standard for math. According to the Balanced Scorecard, 14 percent of high schools do not meet the standard, 78 percent of high schools partially meet the standard and 9 percent meet the standard.
Data that Allen was encouraged by in the WV FREE report was around 98-percent of children are insured with health coverage. She said even though being insured will lead to better health outcomes, the opioid epidemic has held back some children’s outcomes.
“That’s having detrimental effects not only on children’s health but also on their well being,” Allen said. “They are losing their parents to the addiction which means they end up in foster care and children who end up in foster care have worse outcomes over time.”
The foster care system in West Virginia has been in the spotlight in recent weeks when the state Department of Health and Human Resources Deputy Secretary, Jeremiah Samples, released runaway numbers legislative interim committee meetings. Samples said in 2018, there were 791 runaways reported with 205 were reported as long-term runaways.
After the findings were reported and discussed, “Champions of Children” were crowned by the non-profit organization in front of a packed house.
Tricia Kingery, Executive Director of West Virginia KIDS COUNT, said they looked at who have dedicated their lives in a volunteer capacity in investing in that domain and making life better for kids.
Honorees included Dr. Anthony Jenkins of West Virginia State University, Tom Heywood of Bowles Rice, Ellen Bullock, and Dr. Stefan Maxwell of Charleston Area Medical Center.
The Champion of Children Award was presented to Kim Tieman of the Benedum Foundation in Charleston.
“Without her support over the past few years, KIDS COUNT wouldn’t be thriving today,” Kingery said.