Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Sunday afternoon I attended the 2007 Arkansas Children’s Hospital Board of Directors retreat. This year’s session was particularly interesting because Dr. Gary Wheeler, a Clinton School student and pediatrician who practices at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH), helped draft a comprehensive report “The State of Children’s Health in Arkansas.” This report was presented to the ACH Board for the first time.
According to the study, “Children’s health must take into account traditional health information, social factors such as economics and education as well as psychosocial and behavior factors.”
The results were both startling and disturbing, but hopefully they will lead to statewide policy changes and initiatives in the future.
Among the specific findings:
*Births to Arkansas teens are nearly 50 percent greater than the U.S. average.
*Almost 25 percent of Arkansas children under five live in poverty compared to the U.S. figure of 18 percent.
*Between 2000 and 2005, the number of child protective services cases managed by the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services rose 17 percent to a total of 9,032. The number of children in state custody also rose by the same percentage.
*On any given day, in Arkansas, parental incarceration affects 60,000 children. This is nearly 10 percent of all Arkansas children.
*Fatal accidents for children ages 1-14 in Arkansas happen 20 to 30 percent more than is typical in the U.S., with infrequent seat belt usage a strong factor.
*60 of Arkansas’s 75 counties are medically underserved. Of the 75 counties, 69 are considered poor counties.
*41 percent of children in Arkansas live in households with tobacco smoke. compared to 26 percent nationally.
These are just some of the many important facts and enormous challenges which are part of this report. After reading it and listening to the presentation, it appears to me the next step is to engage in a major statewide educational and awareness initiative while concurrently developing local and state action plans. I am proud of Gary’s work in this area and am encouraged that Arkansas Children’s Hospital is taking a leadership role. It is important the Clinton School continues to be a collaborative partner.
You will be hearing much more about this in the future.
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