County-by-county reports on the health and safety of North Carolina’s children shows child poverty levels increased in all 18 westernmost counties between 2007 and 2012, with some — Clay and Polk, specifically — seeing childhood poverty increase by more than 50 percent in those five years.
Compiled and recently released by NC Child, a child-advocacy organization created from the merger of Action for Children NC and the Covenant with NC’s Children, the reports highlight a range of key indicators on children. Data include the prevalence of prenatal care and causes of death and injury to rates of food insecurity and teen pregnancies. It also analyzed how many children under 18 years old live in poverty.
In 2012, the reports indicate that, in Western North Carolina, childhood poverty was lowest in Buncombe (26 percent), Haywood (27.7 percent) and Henderson (23 percent) counties. It was highest in Cherokee (37.6 percent), Macon (34.6 percent) and Graham (33.8 percent) counties. The 2012 data is the most recent available.
Nearly all WNC counties appear to be above the statewide rate, according to the release.
“Statewide, one in four children are growing up in poverty,” said Laila A. Bell, director of research and data at NC Child, in a release about the reports.
For 19 years, the North Carolina Child Health Report Card has monitored the health and safety of children and youth in our state, the release said. The report card presents data for the most current year available, usually 2012, and a comparison year, or benchmark, usually 2007.
Here are snapshots — and direct links to the full reports — of poverty levels in each Western North Carolina county.