Survey reveals Berrien County moms not receiving adequate prenatal carePublished 10:45am Wednesday, January 20, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
The annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2009, which was released this month, reveals that children in Michigan are also facing challenges in this tough economic time.
Childhood poverty in Michigan rose by 6 percent between 2005 and 2007. Nearly one in five children in the state live in poverty.
The statistics in Berrien County were equally alarming. The report found that more than one-third of children under age 5 live in poverty.
The most concerning statistic to Rachel Wade, the Director of the Great Start Collaborative of Berrien County, is that between 2005 and 2007 Berrien County has the second highest percentage of mothers who receive less than adequate prenatal care (22.5 percent) among all counties in Michigan.
“Receiving adequate prenatal care is really important for having a healthy child,” Wade said. “A child can’t be prepared to learn if they are not physically healthy. That starts before they’re even born with prenatal care.”
The study also revealed:
• The county’s infant mortality rate is on the rise.
• The county is falling behind in the percentage of third graders who meet math and reading proficiencies.
• In the last two years, Berrien County has lost 97 licensed child care providers, forcing many working families to turn to unlicensed care.
• The county ranks 56th in number of high school dropouts
Wade believes that organizations like the Berrien County Great Start Collaborative are more important than ever.
The Great Start Collaborative brings together organizations and services across the county to build a network that works together to improve the lives of young children and their families.
“We present the data to figure out what we can do about it together,” Wade said. “How can we as a community pool our resources and efforts together? Everyone is having funding cuts. Everyone is trying to serve more children with less money.”
Great Start, which is primarily state funded, is taking a funding decrease this year, but Wade is confident that if all the organizations in the community come together, the statistics can begin to turn around.
“Eighty-five percent of a child’s brain is developed before 3 years old,” Wade said. “Our young children have to be the priority.”