Orleans Parish children at risk of development challenges - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Orleans Parish children at risk of development challenges

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New Orleans, La. - A new report released by the LSU/Tulane Early Childhood Policy and Data Center shows that 55 of Louisiana's 64 parishes score high on at least one of 11 risk factors related to poor early childhood outcomes.

The study reveals significant vulnerabilities for the development of young children in our state.

"These findings reveal not only that early childhood risk is widespread, but also that the nature of that risk differs across parishes," said Kirby Goidel, director of the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, or PPRL. "For many parishes, the primary risk factors are economic in nature, while in other parishes the risks reside in poor health or educational outcomes."

Overall, Jefferson Parish received a low to moderate risk rating.  Orleans scored a high to moderate risk rating while Tangipahoa Parish received the worst possible score at high risk.

Plaquemines and St. Tammany Parishes ranked at lowest risk for poor early childhood outcomes.

Among the key findings:

• 37 Louisiana parishes scored high on at least one of five economic risk factors including percent unemployed, births to single mothers, percent of mothers with less than a high school education, and median household income as percent of the federal poverty level.

• 38 parishes scored high on at least one of four health risk factors, including percent of low birth weight babies, teen birth rate, infant mortality rate and percent of uninsured children.

• 23 parishes scored high on one of two education risk factors - pre-literacy skills measured at kindergarten entry or the percent of children in either publicly funded early childhood education programs (Early Head Start or Head Start) or publicly-funded child care.

"The report shows that almost all parishes, regardless of their current risk ranking, have strengths from which to build and vulnerabilities that need to be addressed," said Geoff Nagle, director of the Tulane University Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.

A full copy of the report is available at http://www.brightstartla.org.

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