News that South Carolina has reached its highest ranking in child well-being in more than 27 years of data collection isn’t cause for a huge celebration. But our No. 41 ranking in the annual Kids Count Data Book can be viewed as a very positive step.
South Carolina made progress for the second consecutive year, and this best-ever ranking puts the state on the cusp of escaping the bottom 10. That might not seem like a big deal, but after spending most of the past three decades mired into the mid- to low 40s for child well-being, we are definitely moving in the right direction.
Children’s Trust, a statewide organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse, neglect and injury, has worked tirelessly alongside governmental agencies, other statewide organizations and local child-serving partners to protect children, strengthen families and address racial and ethnic disparities in economics, education and health.
It’s not going to be easy, but we are committed to continuing this steady progress through proven prevention programs, research and evaluation, sound policy, community outreach and professional training.
We know what is holding our state back. Too many children aren’t enrolled in pre-K. Too many children aren’t proficient in reading and math. Too many children live in poverty. Too many children suffer from abuse and neglect. Too many children are dying because of accidents related to improperly installed car seats, unsafe infant sleep and drowning.
Children’s Trust teamed up with the Institute for Child Success and the United Way Association of South Carolina to promote the Early Childhood Common Agenda, which offers a framework for policymakers to support high-quality early care and economic stability for working families, including access to affordable child care and a state earned income tax credit.
It’s time for everyone in our state to build on the momentum from this latest Kids Count ranking. We know we can do better. We understand that we must do better.
This isn’t simply about improving a ranking. It’s about making this state a place where all of our children can thrive, have equal opportunities to succeed and lead happy, healthy lives on their way to becoming productive citizens.
CEO, Children’s Trust