Report says 17 percent of children in San Diego County living in poverty


City News Service

About 17 percent of San Diego County children were living in poverty last year, according to annual report released today by the Children’s Initiative that showed improvement in 13 of 25 categories.

Though no apples-to-apples comparisons were available year-to-year, Sandra McBrayer who heads the group that delivered the report to the San Diego Board of Supervisors, said poverty rates for children were the highest they have been since 2000, and immunization rates fell from 85 percent to 77 percent between 2006 and 2009.

About 136,000 children countywide were living in poverty, and about 127,000 were from families receiving food stamps, McBrayer said.

Key findings included:

-- births to girls 15-17 years old fell from from 25 per 1,000 in 2000 to 16.2 per 1,000 in 2009;

-- obesity rates for children declined;

-- grades on standardized tests improved, especially for younger students;

-- substance abuse decreased, despite recent increases in marijuana use;

-- juvenile drunken driving arrests were at the lowest they have been in a decade;

-- the percentage of children covered by health insurance improved, leaving less than 5 percent without any kind of coverage;

-- child abuse rates dropped to 8.3 victims per 1,000 children, about half as many as in 2000; and

-- unintentional injuries and deaths fell, pushing the overall child mortality rate down.

The obesity category covered students in grades 5, 7 and 9 who were unable to pass a fitness test. The number of ninth-graders who failed dropped 24 percent between the 2004-05 and 2009-10 school years.

The report, issued annually since 1998, included recommendations for improvements in each category.

“Certainly, our county uses the data to make recommendations and helping us to make decisions in regards to planning and allocation of resources and services for the residents,” Supervisor Greg Cox said. “It clearly is a road map that helps us to hopefully make a difference in the lives of the children and families we have in this region.”