Voices for Illinois Children released its Illinois Kids Count 2008 report, which shows how children statewide are "much better off than their counterparts a generation ago." The study cited access to health services and education as reasons for the improvement.
Illinois children today have a better quality of life in various aspects and are better off than predecessors 20 years ago, according to a recent report.
The Illinois Kids Count 2008 report, released Thursday by the non-for-profit Voices for Illinois Children, looked at numerous health factors facing children in the state and compiled data to track any trends.
The study was a 20-year retrospective and contains several important results, according to Curt Fenton, director of community health and prevention with the Peoria City/County Health Department.
The report shows Peoria County’s infant mortality rate dropping during the last 23 years.
"Infant mortality is an indicator of general health and well being," Fenton said though Peoria has one of the highest rates in the state, he added.
Between 1985 and 1989, the mortality rate per 1,000 live births in Peoria County was 12.1, according to the study. The rate was tracked in five-year increments and decreased each time, down to 9.3 between 2000 and 2005.
That improvement over the past 20 years ago can be attributed to a variety of reasons, Fenton said.
"More moms are getting prenatal care in the first trimester than 20 years ago," he said.
In 1985, 81.8 percent of women in Peoria County received prenatal care in the first trimester and that number increased to 88.2 percent in 2005, the study said.
Other factors also play a part in the increased health of Illinois children.
"Fewer teens are having babies," Fenton said. "The survival of low birth weight babies has improved."
Gerald Brookhart, superintendent of the Peoria County Regional Office of Education, said the study provides concrete data for advocacy groups like Voices for Illinois Children to take to legislators for support.
"We’re analyzing it as we speak all over the state of Illinois," Brookhart said of the study, which is "critical in order to make public policy decisions that really stand the test of time."
The study says 12 times more children in the state go to preschool today than a generation ago.
About 67 percent fewer children in the state are in foster care now than 10 years ago and 70 percent more children are covered by public health insurance.
"The care provided to these kids is a whole lot better than it was," Fenton said. "Everybody’s doing a whole lot better job with these kids than we were 20 years ago."
Kevin Sampier can be reached at (309) 346-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.