• 61°

Kids Count: Escambia numbers better, but still low in state

The welfare of Escambia County’s children is improving — but the county is still ranked in the bottom third in Alabama, according to statistics released this week by the advocacy group VOICES for Alabama’s Children.

Kids Count numbers put Escambia County at 46th out of 67 counties in Alabama, up from 50th last year.

The county has 31.5 percent of its children living in poverty, down from 35.6 percent a year ago.

But nearly 40 percent of the county’s children are living in single-parent homes, a factor Kids Count uses in its vulnerable families index, where Escambia County ranks 53rd in the state.

“Despite the Great Recession and other challenges Alabama is making progress for its children,” said Linda Tilly, executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children. “Over the past 20 years data has given both advocates and policymakers a true picture of how our children are doing and where we need to make improvements if Alabama is to be all that it can be in the future.”

Escambia County also ranks low in births to unmarried teens — with 11.9 percent of births to unmarried teens ranking the county 64th in the state, although the numbers are declining.

Escambia County has also seen some improvement in its infant mortality rate and its rate of low-weight births.

The county’s first grade retention rate is 2.8 percent, an improvement over a decade ago, giving it a rank of 18th in the state.