Shelby County ranks first in state for child wellbeing

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

Shelby County ranks first in the state when it comes to children’s wellbeing, according to the Voices for Alabama’s Children 2010 Alabama Kids Count Data Book.

The book ranks all 67 Alabama counties based on five indicators: low weight births, births to unmarried teenagers, children in single-parent families, children in poverty and the high school graduation rate.

Of those five indicators, Shelby County ranked first of 67 counties in three: births to unmarried teens, with 3 percent of total births to unmarried teens in Shelby County in 2008; children in single-parent families, with 13.5 percent of Shelby County children in single-parent families in 2000; and children in poverty, with nearly 8 percent of Shelby County children in poverty in 2008.

For comparison, statewide, almost 11 percent of births were to unmarried teens, nearly 29 percent of children were in single-parent families and 22 percent of children were considered in poverty.

However, Shelby County is seeing a worsening trend when it comes to low weight births. The county currently ranks No. 14 in the state, with 210 low weight births in 2008, compared to 162 low weight births in 1998.

Shelby County’s graduation rate of 76 percent is higher than the state graduation rate of nearly 62 percent, and the second highest graduation rate among county school systems.

The Alabama Kids Count Data Book is sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which yearly publishes a Kids Count Data Book for the United States.

In the 2010 Kids Count Data Book for the United States, Alabama ranks No. 47 out of 50 states for children’s wellbeing.