Kitsap children not doing too badly

Our kids’ future is getting brighter, according to a new report published by the Kitsap County Commission on Children & Youth.

The six-page document, titled “Kitsap County 2004: Healthy Youth,” spotlights several positive trends with regard to social problems. For instance, the pregnancy rate for 15- to 17-year-olds has decreased from 41.3 per 1,000 to 28.2.

Child abuse and neglect referrals have decreased from 52.9 per 1,000 to 40.77. And the divorce rate has declined from 6.9 per 1,000 to 5.7.

All statistics measured the time between 1996 and 2002.

“We’re really pleased to see improvements in these demographics,” said Mary Fischer, Kitsap County Readiness to Learn program coordinator. “There is a decrease in the number of kids affected by these issues, which is a move in a positive direction.”

Dropout rates are one area with wide fluctuation. Bainbridge Island was at the bottom of the spectrum with 1.2 percent while Bremerton checked in with 14.5 percent.

Drug use seemed to stay consistent with respect to cocaine, steroids, methamphetamine and injected drugs, while marijuana showed a 15 percent decrease from 49 percent to 34 percent.

Nevertheless, there was a decrease in crime, with arrests decreasing 32.3 percent.

The percent of students meeting state standards on the WASL increased on an average of two percentage points between the respective years.

The report also underscores the need to invest in the future, reporting that every $1 spent on vaccination saves $16 in medical costs and $1 into substance abuse prevention saves $5.50 in health care, law enforcement and incarceration costs.

So paying for the necessary programs seems to offer the largest obstacle to providing adequate youth services.

“We need to be able to coordinate our efforts,” Fischer said. “Otherwise we run the risk of having to cut services. We hope to share our resources and uncover additional funding options.”

For more information or for a copy of the report call (360) 337-4890.

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