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.
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)