The latest numbers from the 2013 Kids Count Fact Book shows Delaware is making strides in reducing births to teen mothers, but the number of kids living in poverty is growing.

The Kids Count study is a compilation of data on Delaware's 230,953 children that state lawmakers and other leaders use to identify trends.  The book also serves as a guide for areas the state needs to improve, or where improvement is already taking hold. There are places where we’re making good progress, and there are places where we still need to make significant progress," said Governor Jack Markell.  "One of the great things about this report every year is that it highlights for us exactly where our kids are."

On the positive side, Delaware's teen birth rate birth rate is declining at 19.6 births per 1,000 teen girls from 2006 to 2010.  The rate has dropped significantly over the past two decades.  "It’s progress, [but] it’s not as much progress," said Markell.  "We’ve got more to go." The teen birth rate for 15-17 year old girls dropped 71 percent from 1991 to 2009.  The birth rate for 18-19 year old girls is down 55 percent since 1991.

On the negative side, poverty for Delaware children is on the rise.  19.9 percent of Delaware children lived in poverty from 2010-2012.  While that number is better than the national average of 21.5 percent, the rate is rapidly increasing.

Kids Count director Janice Barlow says while that increase is expected in light of the recent recession, there's some indication that the child poverty rate might not improve in the near future.  "Studies have shown that directly following a recession, we have a couple of additional years once we’ve entered into a recovery where we expect to see poverty numbers increasing and unfortunately that is still the case in this recession."  

But because of this recession's status as what's been called a "jobless" recovery, the recovery might lag for those in poverty longer that usual.  "It worries us for children in poverty going into future years where we would expect the rate to begin to dip, we’re not sure if that will happen."

The complete 137-page report will be delivered to members of the General Assembly, non-profit groups, child advocates and other stakeholders.  Because of Delaware's small size, a one time event sometimes can skew the percentages on a yearly basis.  That's why most of the categories in the book examine a three or five year period instead of just a single year.

During Monday morning's event to unveil the latest book, Governor Markell envisioned a day when there was no longer a need for a book to detail where the state needs to improve.  "My guess is that we’re probably not going to be able to work our way out of this event any time soon.  The fact is, while we are moving in the right direction, there are still a lot of kids and a lot of families in Delaware who are at risk." 

He concluded his remarks by quoting former longtime Kids Count director Terry Schooley, "Children may be 25 percent of our population, but they are 100 percent of our future, and I know that is what brings all of us together."

Here's a look at some of the highlights from this year's Kids Count Fact Book:

  • Births to Teens
    • number of births per 1,000 females ages 15-17
    • five year average from 20016-10:
      • Delaware 19.6, U.S. 20.8
  • Low Birth Weight Births
    • percentage of infants weighing less than 5.5 lbs. at birth
    • five year average, 2006-10:
      • Delaware 8.0, U.S. 6.5
  • Infant Mortality
    • number of deaths occurring in the first year of life per 1,000 live births
    • five year average, 20016-10:
      • Delaware 8.0, U.S. 6.5
  • Child Deaths
    • number of deaths per 100,000 children 1-14 years old
    • five year average, 2006-10:
      • Delaware 12.8, U.S. 18.2
  • Teen Deaths by Accident, Homicide, and Suicide
    • number of deaths per 100,000 teenagers 15-19 years old
    • five year average, 2006-10:
      • Delaware 46.8, U.S. 42.9
  • High School Dropouts
    • percentage of youths 16-19 who are not in school and not high school graduates
    • 2011-12 school year:
      • Delaware 3.9
  • Economic Inclusion of Young People
    • percentage of teenagers 16-19 who are not in school and not employed
    • three year average, 2010-12:
      • Delaware 7.6, U.S. 8.2
  • Children in Poverty
    • percentage of children in poverty
    • poverty threshold for one-parent, two child family: $17,568
    • poverty threshold for family of four with two children: $22,113
    • three year average, 2010-12:
      • Delaware 19.9, U.S. 21.5
  • No Parent with Full-time Employment
    • percentage of families in which no parent has full-time employment
    • three year average, 2010-12:
      • Delaware 26.3, U.S. 28.9
  • Children in One-Parent Families
    • percentage of children ages 0-17 living with one parent
    • three year average, 2010-12:
      • Delaware 37.9, U.S. 33.8