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More S.D. Children Living In Poverty

— The number of children living in poverty in San Diego County increased to the highest level in a decade between 2007 and 2008, according to a report presented today to the Board of Supervisors.

The child poverty rate of 16.6 percent in 2008 was the highest for San Diego County since 2000, according to the 2009 San Diego County Report Card on Children and Families.

The study, produced by the nonprofit group The Children's Initiative, tracked 26 key indicators of children's well-being, including measures of health, education and safety.

It found improvement in 14 of the indicators, including health coverage, oral health, school achievement, food stamps, child abuse, domestic violence and injuries.

However, no progress has been made in combating teen pregnancy, obesity, youth drinking and driving and child victims of crime, according to the study. It also found a decline in prenatal care and a rise in substance abuse and suicide among children.

"The good news is that a majority of indicators are improving," Supervisor Dianne Jacob said. "Still, we can do better to reduce obesity, substance abuse, drinking and driving and children born with low birth weight."

While the number of eligible children receiving food stamps is increasing, the study found that San Diego County has one of the lowest participation rates among metropolitan areas in the nation.

The report's authors made a number of recommendations on how to improve the health of San Diego County's children, ranging from expanding outreach to low-income mothers and increasing parent and teen communication to monitoring school attendance and encouraging the unemployed to apply for public assistance.

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