FACT SHEET The Children of Blaine County (2015, with 2018 updates)
- Family Income– There are just over 5,000 children in Blaine County (BC). Median family income for BC is $58,086. Although BC is often considered an affluent area, it is important to note that 20.4% of families have incomes at or below the federal poverty line, which is an income of $23,283 or less per year for a family of 4. It is also estimated that another 14% live just at or below 200% of poverty.
- Childhood Hunger and Food Insecurity– Poor child nutrition contributes to two serious health concerns for children, hunger and obesity. Hunger is associated with higher rates of chronic illness, and developmental, academic, and emotional problems. 16-18% of Blaine County children experience food insecurity – the inability to acquire nutritionally sufficient and safe food due to financial restraints. About 39% of Blaine County’s school population is eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. Childhood hunger is associated with childhood obesity, as families with limited resources often rely on low cost foods that are low in nutritional value but high in calories, fat, and sugar.
- Child Care and Preschool Education – About 72% of BC children under age 6 live in families where both parents work outside the home. Only 33% of children ages 3 to 4 are enrolled in any type of “preschool” program, and these are of widely varying quality. The BC school district has places for 120 preschoolers in district-supported Pre-K classrooms providing a ½ day program. A federally funded Head Start program was de-funded and discontinued in 2017. (Idaho is one of 6 states that provides no funding for preschool education and minimal to no regulations for providers.)
- Education – About 91% of BC’s young adults graduated from High School, with about 38% having earned an Associate’s degree or higher.
- Reading Achievement – Approximately 33% of Idaho’s children and the nation’s children are “below basic” in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Blaine County Schools are changing reading assessments this year, so year-to-year growth comparisons are difficult. Overall, between 2016-2018, reading scores in K-1 improved. However, minority and economically disadvantage students experience much higher rates of reading and academic failure than white, middle class students.
- Reading failure is considered a public health problem by the National Institutes of Health because of its association with teen pregnancy, underemployment, adjudication, and diminished health. Among low-income students nationally, about 66% are below grade level in reading. Children who are poor readers in third grade are highly likely to remain poor readers throughout school and are very likely to drop out of high school before graduation. This is a concern for both economic and national security reasons. To remain globally competitive, the United States will need 60 percent of its population to possess a post-secondary degree or credential by 2025. An estimated 75 percent (26 million) of Americans aged 17-24 cannot join the United States’ military most often because they are either poorly educated, involved in crime, or physically unfit — or some combination of these factors.