If the well-being of Utah's kids is a measure of the state's overall fitness, then the 2011 "Kids Count" shows the heavy toll of the recession.
For 16 years, Voices for Utah Children has collected data on kids from infant mortality to teen birth rates as part of research sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore. Year after year, the numbers show Utah generally does well by its kids.
The past two years were no different, except for a marked increase in poverty, said Terry Haven, the project's director in Utah.
Unemployment in families has grown, as has their use of food stamps and the number of students on free or reduced-price lunches. The report notes:
• Unemployment rose from 6.6 percent in December 2009 to 7.1 at the close of 2010.
• Food stamp rolls grew from 97,258 in December 2009 to 105,346 the same month in 2010.
• About 200,000 school children, or 37 percent, got discounted school lunches in 2010, up from 34 percent in 2005.
Also, the percent of children living in poverty grew from 11 percent in 2008 to 13 percent in 2009, according to U.S. Census data.
"That's a significant jump, which may or may not be sustained," said Haven. "But the reality is we have over 100,000 children in poverty and we've never had that many."
Rates of child abuse, infant mortality and babies born at low birth weight remain unchanged.
But for the first time in several years, teen births dropped off, from 18 per 1,000 teen girls in 2008 to 16.5 in 2009. The trend mirrors a statewide decline in the birth rate.
And Utah's injury death rate continues to fall, Haven said. The rate of children dying because of accidents, suicides and homicides dropped from 18 per 1,000 in 2004 to 14.5 per 1,000 children in 2009.
Child wellness in Utah
130 children died because of accidents, suicides and homicides.
12,840 children were abused or neglected.
290 babies died before their first birthday, or 5.3 percent of 1,000 births.
995 babies were born to teen mothers.
Sources: All data reflect 2009 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, Utah Department of Health and Utah Department of Community Services