The annual Oregon County Data Book, which offers detailed statistics on issues facing children and families across the state, was released last week and shows mixed results.
The book is produced each year by the state child advocacy organization, Children First for Oregon. It compiles data in five categories: Health, child welfare, financial stability, early childhood education and youth development and education.
Statewide figures stayed flat compared to last year’s publication. But each county experienced improvements and setbacks.
“By breaking it down to the county level, it shows where things are going well and if there are things counties are doing that we can help with,” said Chris Coughlin, legislative director at Children First for Oregon.
Deschutes County saw improvement in high school students graduating in four years, from 79.3% in 2017 to 82.5% in 2018.
But Deschutes County experienced a major drop in its ranking for child abuse and neglect. The county ranked 11th out of 36 counties in 2017 with 430 children experiencing abuse. The data in the newly released book showed the county ranked 20th in 2018 with 688 children experiencing abuse.
Coughlin said the specific county data helps shape policies or can support changes to programs. The data sparks conversations at the local level, she said.
“There are some things that may look like children are doing really well and others where they are not,” Coughlin said. “We really want to challenge people to look at that.”
Gathering data each year for the annual book helps identify trends in child welfare.
Coughlin points to child insurance rates as a visible success in the data. More than 95% of children in Oregon have had health insurance in each of the past three years. The uninsured rate has improved from 4.6% in 2015 to 3.5% in 2018.
“Children’s health insurance is something where we made a lot of strides, and we have one of the lowest rates of uninsured children across the country,” Coughlin said.
Overall, the wide variety of information in the data book allows lawmakers and organizations to pinpoint areas that need improvement and a way to track child welfare policies, Coughlin said.
“Our hope is we put policies in place and we can see over time the approved rate,” she said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, firstname.lastname@example.org