Editorial: A better place for children?

Published 5:59 pm Sunday, June 26, 2016

An ominous warning for the state’s families lurked in the recent Kids Count report. Slight improvements manifested in today’s teens might not be seen in younger children coming of age in a different era.

So suggested a recent story in the Post:

Laila Bell, a data analyst with N.C. Child, said that graduation rates are a reflection of policy changes made in the mid to late ’90s that provided supports for young children — supports that have since been removed. In a few years, that will likely be reflected in data.

“So we’re kind of failing that cohort of kids,” she said.

What has changed in North Carolina? The state phased out most teaching assistants and otherwise streamlined traditional schools, even as child poverty increased. Families in crisis get lower unemployment benefits for a shorter period of time than their predecessors, and the state earned income tax credit disappeared. These shifts could all impact young children and their families.

The Kids Count report found worse conditions elsewhere. Assessing each state on economic well-being, education, health, family and community, it ranked Mississippi at the bottom, with New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada and Alabama close by.

North Carolina ranked 34th for overall child wellbeing, up one spot from last year. Yay, we’re not the worst. But what is the state doing to keep our children from sliding back down?