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Escambia County ranks 47th in state in child welfare

Escambia County is in the bottom third of all counties in Alabama when it comes to certain statistics that measure children’s well-being.

The annual Kids Count data released this week shows that the county has made improvements in its infant mortality rate but has seen an increase in the number of low-weight births and births to unmarried teens and in the number of children in poverty.

Escambia County Department of Human Resources Director Lynn Barnes said she was not surprised by the statistics.

“We as a state have struggled with (poverty) for many years,” she said. “In recent years, people who have not struggled with poverty have been faced with it.”

Barnes said Escambia County’s food stamp requests remain high — with about $1 million in food stamp benefits distributed each month — and child support collections are at an all-time low in the county and in the state. Many single-parent families that receive child support would not normally need to receive food stamp benefits, she said.

“Poverty is huge right now,” she said. “The main reason children are living in poverty is because a parent is not paying child support. We have so many men who have been laid off work, so it’s a double whammy. People are having to apply for food stamps.”