Children’s Services 2014 Indian River County Assessment: Part One

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IN OUR JUNE 14 Communiqué, we wrote about how in his presentation of the Indian River County 2015-2016 Budget Outlook at the June 10 Taxpayers’ Association of Indian River County, Jason E. Brown, Director – Office of Management and Budget, indicated that $ 200,000 is being allocated to the Children’s Services Program, with another $ 200,000 raised through private donations.

The Children’s Services Program, operating under an Advisory Committee created by an Indian River County Resolution in 1990, provides funding for children’s services throughout the County.

Under Section 3 of the Resolution, Part (b), the Advisory Committee is to “conduct a needs assessment for services required for children in Indian River County.”

Last year the Advisory Committee engaged the Health Council of Southeast Florida to conduct the 2014 Assessment. It provides data and information on the status and wellbeing of children in the Indian River County community. The Assessment provides information, which will aid in identifying unmet health and human service needs of the youth population and serve as a basis for planning activities.

We think it is important for you to know the key findings of this assessment, categorized by Demographic, Socioeconomics, Health and Behavioral Profiles, Education, and Child Welfare.

Demographic and Socioeconomic Profile

In 2013, there were 141,994 individuals living in Indian River County, representing .73% of the state’s population.

  • In 2013, there were 28,574 individuals 0-19 years of age in Indian River; 20.1% of the county’s population;
  • The youth population 0-18 in Indian River’s increased by 18.9% from 2000 – 2013;
  • In 2012, 78.2% of the child population from 0 to 18 years of age were white, 16.5% were black and 21.1 % were Hispanic;
  • In 2013, 18.9% of families in Indian River with children under 18 were living in poverty; of these, 38.9% had female head of household with no husband present.
  • In 2013, 21.3% of children under 18 years were living below the poverty level

Health and Behavior Profile

  • In 2012, 12.4% of youth 0-18 in Indian River were uninsured;
  • In 2013, 6.4% of children under 19 years in Indian River were enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • In 2013, there were 1,217 live resident births in Indian River;
  • In 2013, 15.9% of the live births were to mothers with less than a high school education;
  • In 2013, 28.2 per 1,000 women were to teens 15 – 19 years of age;
  • Indian River had an infant mortality rate of 6.6 per 1,000 live births in 2013;
  • In 2012, 24.1% of low income persons in Indian River had access to dental care;
  • In 2012, 11.2% of middle school students and 14.2% of high school students in Indian River were obese;
  • In 2014 8.6% of high school students reported smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days;
  • In 2014, 7.9% of middle school students and 31.8% of high school students reported using alcohol in the past 30 days;
  • In 2014, 5.4% of middle school students and 19.8% of high school students reported using marijuana / hashish in the past 30 days.

Education

  • There are 28,420 children enrolled in school in Indian River;
  • In 2014, 56% of 3rd graders scored 3 and above of FCAT reading and 49% scored 3 and above on FCAT math modules in Indian River County;
  • In 2014, 58% of 8th graders scored 3 and above on FCAT reading and 18% scored 3 and above on FCAT math modules in Indian River County;
  • In 2013-14 school year, the high school graduation rate in Indian River was 79.1%;
  • In the 2013-2014 school year, 56.62% of students in Indian River were eligible for free/reduced-price lunch.

Child Welfare

  • In 2012, 10.4 per 1,000 children ages 5-11 experienced child abuse;
  • In 2012, 14.7 per 1,000 infants in Indian River were in foster care;
  • In 2012, 498.3 per 100,000 children ages 5-11 and 319.2 per 100,000 children ages 12-17 were in foster care;
  • In 2012, there were 219 marriage dissolutions, with minor children, in Indian River.

The Health Council of Southeast Florida, (HCSEF) gathered and compiled county and state-level data for the Children’s Assessment at the request of the Indian River County Children’s Advisory Committee. The Assessment includes both quantitative and qualitative data.

The quantitative data are from secondary sources and include (list not exhaustive):

  • S. Census Bureau
  • Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA)
  • Florida Department of Health (DOH)
  • Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Florida’s Bureau of Vital Statistics
  • Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Florida Department of Education Information and Accountability Services (EIAS)

The qualitative data are a result of primary data collection efforts through focus groups and key informant interviews.

In concluding its’ Executive Summary – 2014 Children’s Needs Assessment, the Children’s Services Advisory Needs Assessment Sub-Committee wrote: “We need to ask why our youth are so unhappy and disconnected. We heard in our interviews that there is a lack of out of school activities, particularly for those 12+.”

Most that exist require parents to pay for them and deliver the children to practice and games (baseball, soccer, etc.). This is difficult if one can’t afford it and lacks transportation to get there.

A single mother who is worrying how to pay the bills can’t get organized to get her children to activities. Notable positive exceptions to this are Boys & Girls Club, Gifford Youth Achievement Center, Youth Guidance and other programs.”

In part two, next week, we will write about how the Advisory Committee plans to address these issues. “The community must start taking a long-term view focusing 15-25 years out. We have a cycle of poverty in IRC that has been increasing and needs to be broken.”

Sources: Indian River County Children’s Assessment 2014 prepared by Health Council of Southeast Florida.

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