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The state of children in Mississippi is improving, experts s

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The state of children in Mississippi is improving, experts say
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Kids Count
Annie E Casey Foundation

Mississippi children are better off, according to a report. But, as MPB's Ashley Norwood reports, experts say the improvements are small.

For the first time in almost 30 years, Mississippi ranks 48 out of 50, according to an annual progress report called KIDS COUNT. Compiled by the Annie E Casey Foundation, the report shows the state is making slight improvements in areas such as health, education and the economic well being of kids.

Heather Hanna is a research professor at Mississippi State University.

"We did see gains in education over above the rest of the nation. And, I think we can credit our department of education in getting more children proficient in fourth-grade reading and graduating on time," said Hanna.

Hanna says more Mississippi parents have adequate employment and there are fewer households with high housing cost burdens.

"However, we are still the highest in terms of our poverty rate. We're at 30 percent and for African American children we're at 46 percent. And we know that poverty increases the likelihood that a child will experience toxic stress," said Hanna.

Brooke Floyd is the director of Children Services at the Jackson non-profit Stewpot.
She says toxic stress can lead to a world of issues for low-income children.

"Once that stress or that trauma occurs, then they're brains are affected. And if someone doesn't help them relearn how to deal with issues, how to deal with those emotions and feelings, it can drastically affect number how they relate with other people, their ability to learn, to focus and to pay attention," said Floyd.

Floyd says governments and people working together could improve the lives of children living in poverty in Mississippi. The full report is available online at mskidscount.org. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.