Study says Nevada children suffer

LAS VEGAS - Nevada ranks below average in the well-being of its children, a survey shows.

The 2000 Kids Count Data Book ranks the state 35th among the rest of the nation in the social, economic, physical and educational well-being of its children.

The report says that from 1990 to 1997 Nevada had the highest high school dropout rate in the nation, ranked 39th for the number of child deaths, and had a 27 percent increase in the number of families headed by single parents.

Teen-agers 16- to 19-years-old dropped out of high school at a rate of 17 percent in 1997. That compares with the state rate of 15 percent in 1990 and the national dropout rate of 10 percent, which was unchanged.

And while Nevada's mortality rate improved, only 11 states had a higher death rate in 1997, when 30 of every 100,000 Nevada children ages 1-14 died.

On the positive side, the infant mortality rate was down 23 percent from 1990 to 1997, giving the state a ranking of 16th in the nation.

The teen death rate fell 33 percent during those years and the child poverty rate declined 13 percent, compared with a national increase of 5 percent.

''Despite improvements in ... areas, Nevada still ranks below the national average overall,'' Marlys Morton, coordinator of the Nevada Kids Count project.

Kids Count is a national survey funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Its mission is to track the status of children in America and advocate changes in public policy. The Nevada Kids Count project provides more detailed county-by-county data on the condition of children.

Nationally, the 10th annual report shows that infant mortality rates declined 22 percent during the survey period but the percentage of low-birthweight babies increased.

The death rates of children and teens improved by about 18 percent and only a handful of states reported declines.

Across the nation, teen birth rates improved and the number of teen-agers not attending school or working decreased.

From 1990 to 1997, the number of single-parent families increased 13 percent. Single parents head up 27 percent of families with children in the United States, Kids Count found.

The number of children living with parents who don't have full-time, year-round jobs decreased 10 percent. Still about one in every five children in the nation lives below the poverty line, the survey found.

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