Status of Oregon Children Revealed in New Report

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By Erika Weisensee

When it comes to the well being of Oregon children, there is a lot of work to do, according to a new study by Children First for Oregon. Oregon has earned a “D” for the second year in a row on the agency’s 2008 Report Card. The study examined five categories, including Child Welfare, Early Care and Education, Family Financial Stability, Health, and Youth Development and Education.

The letter grade is based on an analysis of progress toward the 2010 Oregon Benchmark Targets and progress over the last ten years.

The 2008 Report Card revealed that 16.9 percent of Oregon Children (ages 0 to 17) live in poverty, 12.6 percent of children under age 18 have no health insurance, 30.9 percent of 8th graders have tried alcohol, and 9 percent of 8th graders smoke cigarettes. While 11.9 percent of Oregonians are at risk of hunger, we also struggle with obesity. More than 26 percent of high school students are overweight or at risk of being overweight.

Despite these and many other challenges, Oregon has improved its grade in some areas. Oregon’s teen pregnancy rate (22.7 per 1,000 girls) decreased over the past year and is at an historic low. Due to strengthening Head Start and other pre-kindergarten programs, the Early Care and Education grade rose slightly.

The study also revealed a decline in the number of abused and neglected children (6.9 per 1,000), a reverse of a 10-year negative trend. “In order to keep more children safe from harm, we must continue efforts to help families with the issues that put them into crisis in the first place: primarily substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health challenges,” the study states.

Children First of Oregon has launched “Vision 2020: Moving Oregon to an A,” a campaign to improve the lives and welfare of Oregon children. To download the 2008 Report Card and to learn more about how you can help, visit cffo.org.

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