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Report: Marlboro County worst in state for child well-being

Marlboro County ranked 46th in the state for child well being (WPDE)

The worst county in the state for a child's well-being--that's how one child advocacy group labeled Marlboro County, ranking the county 46th out of the 46 counties in the state.

Children's Trust of South Carolina released their KIDS COUNT study data just recently.

Now, state representative Patricia Henegan says, while the ranking hurts, the county is working to improve.

"They're trying to do everything they positively can to make a difference. I just believe now we're going to have to do more," Henegan said.

Children's Trust of South Carolina looks at Economic well-being, education, health and family and community.

They say Marlboro County ranks 43rd out of the 46 counties in education alone.

Nine out of 10 eight graders tested below state standards in math and 86 percent of third graders tested below in reading, but Henegan says summer reading camps are growing, as is Northeastern Technical College's dual enrollment program.

"[In] 2016, we only had 17 students participating. Now, think about 2017, we've got 75," Henegan said.

What about health? Children's trusts says Marlboro County is 45th overall.

They say 14 percent of newborns have low birth weight and, while the county's infant mortality is improving, it's still one of the highest in the state at just over 1 percent.

There are resources for new parents that can help, like the First Steps program.

"If we see a child that has a low birth weight or we see delays we make referrals to the agency called baby net, they will go and do an assessment with some of the families and the kids to find out exactly what those delays are," Randall Johnson, First Steps Executive Director, said.

Both Henegan and Johnson say it'll take a team effort to improve.

"It takes a community to raise our children," Henegan said.

"We will come out of this particular hole once we get that, and I’m a product of Marlboro County, so I know it’s possible," Johnson said.

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