FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Charlotte, NC – March 28, 2018: The new Mecklenburg County Data Card shows that child poverty and hunger remain major problems for children. 41.5% of Mecklenburg County children still live in poor or near-poor homes, a major risk factor for negative educational, health, and economic outcomes in the future.
“Whether you’re passionate about early access to care, financial security, quality education, or a child’s basic rights to grow up in a safe environment, the data demonstrate that we have several opportunities to put children first,” urged Emily Tamilin, research and policy director at Council for Children’s Rights. “With momentum focused on economic mobility in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, we must attend to the many facets of childhood need. An informed community with the resources to hold our elected officials accountable is a critical component of the community change we need.”
NC Child, the statewide advocacy group that authored the report cards, with Council for Children’s Rights, called on elected officials and candidates for office to champion children’s issues in the coming election and to take specific actions to address the ongoing child poverty and well-being crises in North Carolina.
“Big problems demand big solutions,” said Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child. “Each year, our elected representatives have an extraordinary opportunity to use public policy to improve the lives of children and families. In 2018, we hope candidates will take bold steps to support families by making affordable, high-quality health insurance available in North Carolina, investing in our public schools, and expanding access to quality early learning programs for young children.”
The data snapshot shows how children and families are faring in 15 key areas of well-being. Aside from family financial security, North Carolina and Mecklenburg County are making halting progress toward improving children’s health and education, but a stronger investment in evidence-based policy solutions is needed to assure children’s current well-being and long-term success.
• In 2016, 66.5% of women in Mecklenburg County received early prenatal care vs. 65.1% in 2015. Statewide, 69% of women received early prenatal care.
• Relatedly, 9.6% of babies were born at a low-birth-weight in 2016 vs 9.2% in 2015. Statewide, 9% of babies were born at a low-birth-weight.
• In 2016-17, 58.4% of third graders are reading on grade-level compared to 58.5% in 2015-16. Statewide, 57.8% of third graders score at grade-level proficiency in reading.
“Marginal progress is better than no progress, but the fact remains that our state’s children face far too many barriers to success. Treading water isn’t good enough,” said Whitney Tucker, research director at NC Child. “North Carolina’s children demand our best efforts to improve their circumstances now so they can thrive in the future.”
The Mecklenburg County Data Card includes sample questions that constituents can ask candidates for office about their plans to accelerate North Carolina’s progress on key issues facing children, such as early education, family financial security, and access to health insurance for parents.
NC Child and Council for Children’s Rights call on constituents, candidates, and current elected officials to make children their top priority in 2018.
To compare Mecklenburg County child well-being indicators with other counties or statewide data, follow this link.
About Council for Children’s Rights
Council for Children’s Rights works to improve the lives and futures of children in Mecklenburg County through legal representation, individual advocacy, and by addressing community-wide issues through research and policy work. The Council’s lawyers and advocates work primarily in the areas of education, health, mental health, contested custody and juvenile justice. For more information on the Council or how you can support this work, please contact LuAnn Ritsema, Director of Communication, or visit our web site at www.cfcrights.org.
About NC Child
NC Child is a statewide nonprofit, non-partisan advocacy organization that builds a strong North Carolina by advancing public policies to ensure all children – regardless of race, ethnicity, or place of birth – have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Learn more at www.ncchild.org.