This scorecard tracks the county-level results and indicators for Kent County.
Our children's health is the foundation for successful adolescence and adulthood. Our 2015 needs assessment repeatedly expressed concern over substance abuse. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey affirmed the concern. Use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs is associated with a variety of potentially harmful behaviors that can lead to negative outcomes such as poor school performance, social adjustment problems, delinquency, risky sexual behavior, driving under the influence, and involvement in the juvenile justice system. Conversely, if youth are not using drugs, they are more likely to maintain or strengthen school attachment, participate in positive activities that will prepare them for adulthood, and develop a sense of personal responsibility without chemically-based dependencies.
The ability to successfully do kindergarten work is one of, if not the most important factor in the educational and life success of our young children. Children who have access to high quality learning experiences are more likely to complete high school, attend college, or pursue gainful employment. Kindergarteners who are fully ready when they begin school are less likely to require targeted support or special education services, be involved in the juvenile justice system, or drop out of school.
A disproportionate number of Kent County children experience poverty, homelessness and food insecurity. Poverty is the root cause of a broad spectrum of barriers to successful adulthood. Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to have health problems, and for those problems to go untreated. An unstable family environment can create mental health needs and erode a child's ability to focus on school-work and resilience in the face of challenges during adolescence.
Food insecurity affects the lives of children beyond not having the access to enough food; it effects the ability of children and youth to attend and perform in school and raises greater health concerns.
Families cannot achieve economic self-sufficiency without stable housing conditions. Homelessness has a profound impact on children's health and education, as well as parents' abilities to find a job and stay employed. Homeless children have twice the rate of emotional and behavioral issues - including anxiety, depression, and withdrawal. Families in the current fragile economy face the risk of becoming homeless when they experience unemployment, lower earning power, or foreclosure. Other factors - such as domestic violence, medical crises, and mental healthy or addiction - make families vulnerable. Even in the best economic times, affordable housing can be hard to find for families without skilled jobs.