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Virginia's children are doing better when it comes to education and health according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 25th annual Kids Count Survey (pdf), but the report suggests more are living in low-income homes.
The survey ranks the state in four categories. “Health” and “Education” show improvements. For instance, under “Health,” there’s a drop in teen pregnancy rates. But there were declines in the “Economic Well-Being,” and “Family and Community” categories. Virginia was ranked ninth overall.
Ted Groves is the Kids Count Director at Voices for Virginia's Children. He says much of that relates to the increased number of single-parent homes. He says raising a child on one income is difficult.
"It's also true that poverty increases the chances that a child will be born to unmarried parents," Groves says.
He says it's unlikely that trend will revert back to the two-parent norm soon. So a solution is to find ways to support single parents.
"By offering quality preschool, so parents have the ability to work when the children are young and the children have the ability to learn early," Groves says.
Another contributing factor is the number of people living near poverty. Groves says more Virginians now spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing, which makes it challenging to meet other family needs. Additionally, the child poverty rate has risen to 15 percent.