WI child poverty up, teen pregnancy down, according to study

MGN Online
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A new study released on kids' health, poverty and teen pregnancy rates, show signs of progress and concern for some.

According to the Kids Count Data Center, Wisconsin's child poverty rate rose more than four percent from 2008 to 2012, closely following the national average.

“The data that we get from reports like is really important. It reminds us the things we need to be working on our community that poverty and education are huge factors in kids’ health,” Eau Claire Health Department Director Lieske Giese said.

In 2007 teen births represented nearly nine percent of all births, dropping to nearly six percent in 2012, but Giese said the issue remains a health concern for young moms and babies.

“It is difficult to tell why teen pregnancy rates are exactly going down but we know that it does have to do with education, with populations gaining income because that also makes a difference and access to services,” Giese said.

The Eau Claire School District along with others like Elk Mound and Chippewa Falls are seeing an increase in free and reduced lunch eligible students, which went up seven percent state wide in the last five years.

“More healthful foods often are more expensive. Oftentimes it becomes an issue for a family of being able to eat and pay rent and have enough money for their energy bills and transportation and things like that. So we certainly want to encourage kids to take advantage of the free and reduced price lunch,” Sue Brown, the Eau Claire School District Nutrition Director, said.

“More than 1,100 kids are born, if we start them out right, every year, we have a chance to work with 1,100 new kids in Eau Claire County that we could make a difference with and make sure they're starting on a new path to being healthy,” Giese said.