Health survey underscores impact of poverty on children

Sheboygan County ranked 26 out of 72 counties for overall health, according to the ninth annual County Health Rankings, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).

The rankings provide an opportunity for community members to become aware of public health issues specific to Sheboygan County and to recognize that it takes community efforts at every level to impact our county health rankings.

“We are making steady progress but recognize further work to improve health in Sheboygan County is needed,” said Diane Liebenthal, interim health officer at the Sheboygan County Division of Public Health, which partners with other community organizations to move Sheboygan County forward by utilizing Health Sheboygan County 2020 as a springboard.

An easy-to-use snapshot that compares counties within states, the rankings show that where you live influences how well and how long you live.

The local-level data make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care including housing, education, and jobs.

This year’s new Rankings State Reports show meaningful gaps in health persist not only by place, but also by race and ethnicity.

Looking at differences by place and race offers a more complete picture of health, this year’s analyses show that lack of opportunity, such as education, jobs and affordable housing, disproportionately affects people of color across the nation and within Wisconsin.

The new rankings state reports call attention to key drivers of health such as children in poverty. Poverty limits opportunity and increases the chance of poor health.

Children in poverty are less likely to have access to well resourced and quality schools, and have fewer chances to be prepared for living wage jobs.

The Wisconsin State Report reveals that in Wisconsin, 16 percent of children live in poverty, compared to the U.S. rate of 20 percent.

Among racial and ethnic groups in Wisconsin, rates of children in poverty range from 11 percent to 44 percent with American Indian/Alaskan Native children faring the worst and white children faring the best.

“Children as our future is not a cliché,” said Karen Ordinans, executive director of the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin. “They are our future workforce, caretakers and leaders.

“The County Health Rankings underscore the need to make children’s health a priority and invest in what we know works,” she said. “The rankings allow us to tell the story about our strengths and opportunities for improvement as a state. They confirm overall health is driven by various social and economic factors that cannot be ignored any longer. We need to come together and collectively address child poverty and health, at the state level and in each county, if we want Wisconsin to proudly be one of the healthiest states in the country.”

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