A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that the number of children in Somervell County living in areas of high poverty has risen over the past five years and that more than one in five children is enrolled in Medicaid.
The foundation's report defined “high poverty” areas as census tracts with poverty rates of 30 percent or more. The 2010 federal poverty threshold was $22,314 annually for a family of four.
The most recent data in the report is for 2010. The report breaks down the data by communities.
To view the Somervell County profile, click this link:
For the Texas data, click here: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/bystate/stateprofile.aspx?state=TX&loc=45
The county's total child population has stayed essentially flat from 1,977 in 2005 to 1,995 in 2009, according to the report.
In 2006, 330 children in the county lived in high poverty areas; in 2010 the number was 377, or 17.1 percent. That was well below the statewide total of 25.7 percent in 2010.
The report appears to support what Glen Rose ISD officials have found: Even though the school district is classified as a “property wealthy” district – thanks to tax revenues from the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant – and must return a portion of those revenues to the state under the so-called Robin Hood school finance plan, many of its students live in impoverished families.
The weak economy has taken a toll on children and families. The data showed the county's unemployment rate rose from 4.9 percent in 2006 to 7.9 percent in 2010.
The foundation noted that children who live in areas of concentrated poverty have a more difficult time accessing quality health care, experience high levels of stress and are more likely to struggle in school and drop out.
The public high school attrition rate was one of the few areas in the report where Somervell County showed improvement for vulnerable children and families.
In 2006, according to the foundation's data, 32 public high school students in Somervell County dropped out. In 2010, the number dropped to 23.
The county's attrition rate of 17 percent in 2010 was well below the statewide attrition rate of 29 percent in public high schools.
Here's what the other numbers show for Somervell County:
The number of children enrolled in Medicaid is 22.2 percent. Statewide, the total is 34.2 percent.
The number of children receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, formerly known as food stamps, rose from 182 to 2005 to 328 in 2009. Statewide, it's more than 1.6 million kids.
Thirty-two percent of women who gave birth in 2007 received late or no prenatal care, compared with 40 percent for the entire state.
Sixteen teenagers, or 17 percent, gave birth in 2007. The statewide number was 13.5 percent.
Pre-kindergarten enrollment among 3- and 4-year-olds grew from 19.4 percent in 2005-2006 to 23.6 percent in 2009-2010. In Texas, the figure was 28 percent for 2009-2010.
Confirmed victims of child abuse in the county rose from 16 in 2005 to 26 in 2009. In Texas, 68,326 confirmed victims of child abuse were reported in 2009.
The number of children in foster care declined slightly to four in 2009, compared with five in 2005. For the entire state, 26,829 children were in foster care in 2009.
The report also pointed out that Texas remains the state with the largest percentage of uninsured children in the country. It has held that position for nine of the past 10 years.
See next Wednesday's Reporter for more on the report.