Friday, May 06, 2016

Children’s Defense Fund report paints a grim picture of lack of progress in Appalachian Ohio

Appalachian Ohio in blue
Little has been done over the past 15 years to improve dire conditions in Appalachian Ohio, especially when it concerns the well-being of children, says a report published this week by the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. The report states: “Looking back over the past 15 years, we find that in Appalachia a higher percent of children are poor, unemployment is higher, median incomes continue to lag behind the state average, and working families are struggling to make a living wage." (Children's Defense Fund graphics)

More than a quarter of all kids in Ohio's 32 Appalachian counties live in households without enough food, say Renuka Mayadev and Dawn Wallace-Pascoe of the Children's Defense Fund. Ohio's top 12 counties with the highest rates of child poverty are all in Appalachia.

The report found that in Appalachian Ohio, 15.4 babies per every 1,000 births are born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome—addiction to opiates—with numbers as high as 76 out of every 1,000 in Scioto County, on the Kentucky border. Also, "a higher percentage of babies are being born at low birthweight, putting them at increased risk of development problems and dying within the first year of life," the report says.

Health-care provider shortages are also a severe problem, as 28 of the 32 Appalachian counties suffer an acute shortage of dentists and 21 "face an acute shortage of primary care physicians and 28 counties have an acute shortage of mental health professionals," the report says. Education numbers didn't fare much better, with 14 counties lacking Early Head Start programs. Appalachian students are more likely to need to take remedial 'make-up' classes in college and fewer adults have college degrees, "in part because those with degrees move away for better opportunities." (Read more)

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