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      Kids Count: A quarter of Oklahoma children live in poverty

      It's a sad state of affairs for children in Oklahoma- nearly one in four children in the state live in poverty.

      That's according to a national study released Tuesday morning.

      The 25th annual "Kids Count" report ranked Oklahoma 39th in the country for child well-being. The state dropped from 36th in 2013, ending three consecutive years of improvements. It was one of the largest drops in the U.S. The report looked at 16 indicators across four areas, including economic well-being, education, health and family, and community. Oklahoma made only slight improvements in two of the categories: health and family and community.The health improvements included a 3 percent increase in children with health insurance, less child and teen deaths (down from an average of 32 in 2005 to 26) and a 2 percent decrease in the amount of teens who abuse drugs and alcohol.In the family and community category, teen births are reportedly down 13 percent. There was also a 1 percent increase in household heads with high school diplomas in the state. According to the report, the number of children living in high-poverty areas in the state more than doubled, increasing from 5 percent to 12 percent.Oklahoma is lagging behind the national average when it comes to reading proficiency, though the study showed slight improvements. The percentage of fourth-graders not proficient in reading went from 75 percent in 2008 to 70 percent in 2013. The national average is 66 percent. The President of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy says this data shows the state is not doing well in helping its children. Nationally the poverty rate has increased from 19 percent in 2005 to 23 percent in 2012. The national study was released by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation. The states with the highest overall child well-being rankings are Massachusetts, Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire and MinnesotaArizona, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Mississippi round out the bottom five.
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