Marlboro County was ranked the absolute worst in the state in terms of child well-being this year, according to the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, a statewide organization working to prevent child abuse, neglect and injuries.
The Children’s Trust issued its annual KIDS COUNT county-level data profiles last week. These profiles rank South Carolina’s 46 counties on 16 indicators of child well-being across four domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
Marlboro County had an overall ranking of 46th, which is last in the state. For the previous two years, it had been ranked 45th and Allendale County had been last, but in 2017 Allendale jumped to 37th.
The four broad areas looked at in the report are Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.
In the category of Economic Well-Being, the specific indicators, along with Marlboro County and South Carolina figures for comparison, are:
-Children 0-7 in households with income below the poverty level: Marlboro County - 37.9 percent, South Carolina - 24.4 percent
-Children living in families
where no parent is in the labor force: Marlboro County - 12.1 percent, South Carolina - 9.2 percent
-Owner-occupied housing where household spends at least 30 percent of their income on housing: Marlboro County - 20.2 percent, South Carolina - 23.1 percent
-Teens age 16-19 not enrolled in school and not working: Marlboro County - 8.6 percent, South Carolina - 8.5 percent.
Marlboro County performed best in this category, with its percentages not vastly different from those of the state overall.
In the category of Education, the specific indicators, along with Marlboro County and South Carolina figures for comparison, are:
-Cumulative percent of children failing grades 1, 2 or 3: Marlboro County - 10.8 percent, South Carolina - 4.7 percent
-Third graders testing below state standards in reading: Marlboro County - 86.5 percent, South Carolina - 66.7 percent
-Eighth graders testing below state standards in math: Marlboro County - 91.4 percent, South Carolina - 67.9 percent
-Dropouts as a percentage of the total enrollment for grades 9-12: Marlboro County - 2.4 percent, South Carolina - 2.3 percent.
Marlboro County fell noticeably short of the state in all but one category under Education. Only in dropouts was it comparable; our percentages of students testing below standards were much higher than those of the state and our cumulative percentage of children failing grades 1, 2 or 3 was more than twice that of the state.
In the category of Health, the specific indicators, along with Marlboro County and South Carolina figures for comparison, are:
-Low-birthweight babies: Marlboro County - 14.3 percent, South Carolina - 9.5 percent
-Infant mortality rate per 1,000: Marlboro County - 11.7 percent, South Carolina - 7.0 percent
-Child deaths, ages 1-14, rate per 100,000: Marlboro County - 140.6, South Carolina - 20.4
-Teen deaths, ages 15-19, per 100,000: Marlboro County - 124.8, South Carolina - 63.6
Marlboro County’s rates of child and teen deaths were shockingly higher than those of the state - its teen death rate twice South Carolina’s and its child death rate nearly seven times higher.
In the category of Family and Community, the specific indicators, along with Marlboro County and South Carolina figures for comparison, are:
-Children living in single parent families: Marlboro County - 59.4 percent, South Carolina - 41.5 percent
-Families where householder lacks a high school diploma: Marlboro County - 21.4 percent, South Carolina - 11.8 percent
-Children living in concentrated areas of poverty: Marlboro County - 71.9 percent, South Carolina - 14.1 percent
-Births to teens 15 to 19 years of age, per 1,000: Marlboro County - 75.1, South Carolina - 26.1.
Marlboro County was much higher than the state in Family and Community as well, particularly in its percentages of children living in poverty and births to teens, which was five times and three times the state’s percentages, respectively.
Not surprisingly, the counties at the bottom of the KIDS COUNT rankings are also in the bottom of S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce monthly unemployment rankings.
The bottom five on the KIDS COUNT report were McCormick, Williamsburg, Marion, Dillon and, lastly, Marlboro.
Other neighboring counties, Chesterfield and Darlington, were ranked near the middle at 26th and 28th, respectively.
South Carolina is ranked 39th in the nation.
According to the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, county profiles can be used in grant writing, service decision-making, policy and advocacy in order to improve conditions for children and, in turn, communities overall. The information can be found at https://scchildren.org/advocacy_and_media/kids_count_south_carolina/