THE CHALLENGE

Stable families, good schools, and steady employment give children a chance to succeed

The reasons for Georgia’s poor rankings are complex. A central factor, however, is that the primary engines of opportunity – stable  families, good schools, and steady employment– which historically gave children a chance to succeed regardless of social and economic background, have experienced a rapid decline:

In 2011, 68% of fourth graders were not proficient in reading and 72% of eight graders were not proficient in math.

38% of children in Georgia now grow up in single-parent homes (with single-parent households six times more likely to be poor than intact families).

Only 67% of Georgia’s children graduate from high school – one of the lowest graduation rates in the country.

One result of these poor outcomes is that 21% of young adults in Georgia age 18 to 24 are not successfully transitioning to adulthood: they are not enrolled in school, not working, and have no degree beyond a high school diploma or GED*. The number of young adults in this position has increased by 24% over the last five years alone.

THE COST

These statistics represent very real human and financial costs. Economists estimate that each Georgia high school dropout costs the state about $2,455 each year after they leave school, and for the remainder of their lives. The annual public cost associated with Georgia’s current working-age dropouts is about $1.8 billion. Even minor improvements to the dropout rate or recidivism lead to significant economic returns:

Helping just 1,000 high school dropouts to graduate would have supported 120 new jobs in Georgia, increased the gross state product by $16 million, and poured an additional $800,000 annually into state coffers.

If the number of people who return to prison each year was reduced by only 1%, the state would save $7 million annually.

Such statistics underscore the economic and human costs which stem from the unrealized potential in many of Georgia’s children.

GEORGIA KIDS COUNT DATA STATISTICS

37TH – OVERALL CHILD WELL-BEING

38TH – EDUCATION

%

children not attending pre-school (‘08-’10)

%

fourth graders are not proficient in reading (‘11)

%

eighth graders not proficient in math (‘11)

%

high school students not graduating on time (’08-’09)

43RD – ECONOMIC WELL-BEING

%

children whose parents lack secure employment (‘10)

%

children in poverty (‘10)

%

children living in households with high housing cost burden (‘10)

%

teens not in school and not working (’10)

37TH – FAMILY & COMMUNITY

%

children are members of single-parent families (‘10)

%

children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma (‘10)

%

children living in high-poverty areas (‘06-’10)

%

teen births per 1,000 (‘09)

30TH – FAMILY & COMMUNITY

%

low-birth weight babies (‘09)

%

children without health insurance (‘10)

child and teen deaths per 100,000 (‘09)

%

teens who abuse alcohol or drugs (‘08-’09)

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