The nonprofit Save the Children delivers education and health programs in eight Kentucky counties: Clay, Jackson, Jefferson, Knott, McCreary, Owsley, Perry and Whitley. | Image via Lexington Herald-Leader

By Valarie Honeycutt Spears | Lexington Herald-Leader

Kentucky ranks 33 out of 50 states in Save the Children’s first-ever End of Childhood Report.

The state-by-state U.S. ranking by the humanitarian organization focuses on “childhood enders,” including infant deaths, violent deaths, adolescent birth rates, high school dropout rates, malnutrition and access to food.

Overall, the No. 1, or top-ranked, state is New Hampshire, and No. 50 is Louisiana.

In global rankings, the report says the United States ranks 36th between Bosnia and Russia, well behind other developed nations, including Norway, France , the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, Japan, Lithuania and Greece.

Below is Kentucky’s ranking on specific categories in the report released Wednesday. The full report is online at Endofchildhood.org.

▪ Infant mortality: 33 (6.7 deaths per 1,000 in 2015)

▪ Malnutrition: 31 (Child food insecurity rate in 2014, 21.9 percent — 222,380 food-insecure children in 2014)

▪ High school dropouts: 8 (High school students not graduating on time — 12 percent in 2014-2015)

▪ Violence: 30 (78 homicides and suicides in 2015 — 6.9 per 100,000)

▪ Adolescent birth: 44 (4,503 teen births in 2015 for ages 15-19)

▪ Overall ranking: 33

Save the Children began its work in Kentucky communities in 1932, providing support to school children during the Great Depression. The organization delivers education and health programs in eight counties in Kentucky: Clay, Jackson, Jefferson, Knott, McCreary, Owsley, Perry and Whitley, spokeswoman Allie Wright said.

Rich Bland, national director of policy and advocacy for Save the Children, said the answer to improving life for Kentucky’s children could lie in providing early childhood education.

“Save the Children is committed to the children of Kentucky — we’ve worked in rural communities in Eastern Kentucky since the Great Depression,” Bland said. “We know that providing children opportunity and access to early childhood education has tremendous potential in ensuring kids across the state have the childhoods they deserve — and mitigating against childhood enders.”

A child without access to early education is 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become a teen parent, 60 percent more likely to never attend college, and 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime, Bland said.



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