Kids Count: S.C. shows no progress in children's barometer

COLUMBIA -- Since 2000, South Carolina has seen worsening rates of children living in poverty, in single-parent homes and with unemployed parents, according to an annual report released today.

The state continues to rank 46th nationally on children's ability to succeed, unchanged from last year, and ahead of Alabama, New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi. New Hampshire ranked first in the 19th annual Kids Count report on children's well-being.

It shows South Carolina's rate of locked-up youth is substantially higher than the national average. For every 100,000 young people ages 10 to 15, the state detains 185, compared to 125 nationwide. That averages 1,320 youth in custody on a daily basis -- 68 percent of them for nonviolent offenses.

Young people put behind bars have the worst odds at long-term success, with disturbing and costly consequences, according to the report.

"Over their lifetime, they will achieve less educationally, work less and for lower wages, fail more frequently to form enduring families, experience more chronic health problems (including addiction), and suffer more imprisonment," it reads.

South Carolina ranks in the bottom 10 states on seven of 10 indicators. The state's performance deteriorated in half of the measures. It improved slightly in four.

The worst ranking comes for children in single-parent families -- 48th nationally -- with 40 percent in such homes in 2006, up from 35 percent in 2000.

The percentage of children whose parents lack full-time work jumped to 36 percent, from 31 percent. And the percentage of children living with a family income of less than $20,444 for a family of four grew to 22 percent from 19 percent.