CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The overall well-being of children in West Virginia has slightly improved from last year, according to the 2021 data book released Tuesday from West Virginia Kids Count.
The state is listed 43rd overall in economic well-being, which is up from 48th overall in 2020.
Poverty is still the biggest challenge among low ranking counties like McDowell, Summers and Logan, but technology during the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a boost to education over the last year.
“The percentage of children in poverty is slightly increasing. With that said, in comparison to the country, we’re still struggling. There’s so much work to do,” said Tricia Kingery, executive director of West Virginia Kids Count.
West Virginia continued to see further gains in education for children as more high school seniors graduate on time and students.
“We’re seeing the percentage of high school students not graduating on time continue to improve over the years and right now we’re at 7.9 percent,” Kingery said.
Putnam County was the highest-rated county in the state. Monongalia and Ohio counties rounded out the top three for 2021.
On Tuesday, West Virginia Kids Count presented its annual Champion of Children awards. The list included Education Champion of Children Donna Hoylman Peduto, executive director for the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative, presented by Lloyd Jackson.
The Health Champion of Children is Dr. Christopher “Dino” Beckett, chief executive officer of Williamson Health & Wellness Center, Inc., presented by Larry Rhodes.
The Economic Well-Being Champion of Children is Srini Matam, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, Inc., presented by Brian Lake.
The Family and Community Champion of Children is Woody Woods of West Virginia Radio Corporation, presented by Bobbie Spry.
The Overall Champion of Children is Jennifer Garner, award winning actress, philanthropist, entrepreneur and West Virginia native, presented by Brad Smith.