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Rate of Teen Pregnancy Declining, But More Teen Moms in Poverty

By: Leonard Horton
By: Leonard Horton

A report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation this week has both good and bad news.

The annual Kids Count report on the health and well-being of children and teens finds the rate of teen pregnancy is on the decline.

Examining age group 15-19 from 1999 to 2003, the rate of teen pregnancy in Florida went from 52 births per 1,000 to 42. In Georgia, the rate went from 64 births to 42. But child care experts say there is more between the numbers.

"There are a lot of issues that surround teen parenthood to this day. Poverty, family violence issues, sexual abuse, housing, inadequate food; many things cause us great concern," said Barbara White with Florida State University's Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy.

Rebecca Pruett, director of the Early Head Start Program in Gadsden County, says over the years, funding for subsidized child care and other programs to help disadvantaged families with young children have been cut.

She says this is part of the reason more young moms are living in poverty.

"It is having an impact on how we are able to assist them to get out and get jobs and become self sufficient while they are working," explained Pruett, who feels one way of addressing these issues is to improve the quality of child care so that children born in poverty will have a better chance in life.

The Kids Count report also addresses infant mortality rates and rates of babies born with low birth weight. Overall, the findings rank Florida 33rd, worst in the nation, with Georgia ranked 44th.


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