Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

December 20, 2013

Appanoose County losing ground

By Michael Schaffer Managing Editor
The Daily Iowegian

---- — An organization that tracks the well-being of Iowa children and families released a report this month that shows Appanoose County has mostly lost and gained very little ground in several areas.

The Child and Family Policy Center recently released Iowa Kids Count, a report highlighting trends in the well-being of Iowa children in 2012.

The report states Iowa children as a whole have made gains in health and education in 2012 despite stagnate family economic conditions. Iowa children made improvements in other areas since 2000 “despite the economic situation that their families continue to face,” according to the report’s summary page.

“It is very encouraging that the health and educational status of Iowa children have shown improvements during the past decade,” Michael Crawford, Child and Family Policy Center senior associate and author of the report, said. “This is especially true the last few years with many families struggling financially. It is extremely important that the critical health and education programs supported by the state are continued as families work to strengthen their economic standing.”

The report states Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program enrollment percentage tripled since 2000 while the unemployment rate more than doubled and the child poverty rate and students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches saw substantial increases since 2000.

The report lists 20 different indicators ranging from health and education to a variety of topics covering child and family well-being by county with most outcomes based on the years 2000 to 2012.

How has Appanoose County done in the 20 categories the report looked at from those years? It’s a mixed bag, but mostly not that promising.

In a lot of the categories, the statistics for Appanoose County increased almost solely because the sample number decreased.

Child abuse and neglect increased by more than 10 percent. However, the county’s child population dropped dramatically, going from 3,255 in the year 2000 to 2,799 in the year 2012. Yet, the number of children confirmed abused or neglected decreased by three, from 64 in the year 2000 to 61 in the year 2012.

Child deaths showed no percentage change from 2000 to 2012. The child population in 2000 was 2,496 and in 2012 it was 2,173. A more than 300 decrease in population.

Child poverty showed a spike, up 37 percent from the year 2000 to 2012. In 2000, there were 3,071 children in the county with 565 or 18.4 percent living below the poverty level. In the year 2011, there were 2,778 children with 700 of them or 25.2 percent living below the poverty level.

Children in Women, Infants and Children program declined by 16.4 percent. In the year 2003, there were 732 children in the county with 271 of those or 37 percent on WIC. In the year 2012, there were 792 children in the county with 245 of those or 30.9 percent on WIC. The number of children went up as the number receiving WIC went down.

Earned Income Tax Credit use went up by 37.3 percent from the year 2000 to year 2011. Despite a 420 decrease in the number or income tax filers, from 5,786 in 2000 to 5,365 in 2011, the number who qualified went up, from 936 in 2000 to 1,192 in 2011.

Eighth grade math proficiency increased by 11.7 percent. In 2003, 174 students were tested and 111 were found to be proficient. In 2012, 146 students were tested and 104 were found to be proficient.

The number to be found proficient dropped by seven yet the percentage increased because 28 fewer students were tested.

Family Investment Program financial assistance in Appanoose County dropped by 40.8 percent. In 2000, Appanoose County had a total population of 13,721 and 491 families were receiving assistance. In 2012, the total population was 12,700 and 269 families were receiving assistance.

Food Assistance in Appanoose County went up by 94.7 percent. In 2000, 1,297 individuals were receiving food assistance. In 2012, that number jumped up to 2,337 given the fact the county lost more than 1,000 in population.

Fourth Grade Reading Proficiency decreased by 2.9 percent. In 2003, 146 students were tested and 116 were found to be proficient. In 2012, 153 students were tested and 118 were found to be proficient.

Free or Reduced-Price Lunch Eligibility went up by 3.9 percent. In 2000, 2,316 were enrolled and 1,022 were eligible. In 2012, 2,054 were enrolled and 942 were eligible.

High School Graduation increased by 8.3 percent. In 2000, 155 graduated. In 2012, 123 graduated.

The percentage increased because the number of eligible students enrolled dropped from 191 in the year 2000 to 140 in the year 2012.

Infant Mortality, according to the report, was not available.

Low Birthweight increased by 34 percent. In the year 2000, 142 live births were recorded with eight as low birthweight. In 2012, 159 live births were recorded with 12 as low birthweight.

Prenatal Care increased by 24.8 percent. In 2007, 168 prenatal care births were recorded with 113 needing prenatal care. In 2012, 156 prenatal care births were recorded with 131 needing prenatal care.

Preschool enrollment increased by 31.1 percent. In 2000, Appanoose County had 297 children between the ages of 3-4 with 123 in preschool. From the years of 2007-2011, Appanoose County had 409 children between the ages of 3-4 with 222 in preschool.

Single Parent Families in Appanoose County increased by 25.7 percent. In 2000, there were 1,735 families with children and 497 of those were with single parents. In 2010, the number of families with children dropped to 1,488 but the number of single parent went to 536.

Teen Births increased by 8.9 percent. In 2000, the female population age 15-19 was 467 with 20 live births. In 2012, the number of live births dropped to 16 and the number of females age 15-19 dropped to 343.

Teen Unmarried Births increased by 21.8 percent. In 2000, 142 live births were recorded with 11 of those attributed to teen unmarried births. In 2012, 159 live births were recorded with 15 of those attributed to teen unmarried births.

Unemployment in Appanoose County increased by 62 percent from the year 2000 to 2012. The labor force in 2000 numbered 6,550 with 280 as unemployed. In 2012, the labor force was 5,920 with 410 unemployed.

The reports lists the following sources for its information:

Iowa Department of Human Services; Iowa Department of Public Health; United States Census Bureau; Internal Revenue Service; Iowa Department of Education; and Iowa Workforce Development.