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Sandra Yi Reporting...A new report shows the number of Utah kids living in poverty fell by nearly 40 percent in the 19-90s.
Child advocates say that’s good news, but don't let the numbers fool you. The state has a high percentage of children. And 71 thousand live in poverty and 22 thousand of them -- in extreme poverty.
Terry Haven/Kids Count Coordinator, Utah Children: "SO EVEN THOUGH WE RANKED THIRD, THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE HAVE NO CHILDREN IN CRISIS OR WHO ARE AT RISK."
This Kids Count data report, released today, tracks the status of kids in the U-S for policy makers and advocates. It shows that, nationwide, kids' overall well being improved in the 90s and Utah ranks third among all states.
Utah's teen birth rate fell by 19 percent.
The child death rate also decreased to 20 deaths per 100 thousand children between 1 to 14 years old. That's close to, but still lower than the national average.
Terry Haven/Kids Count Coordinator, Utah Children: "YOU DON'T WANT TO GET INTO THAT DANGER OF PATTING YOURSELF SO HARD ON THE BACK THAT YOU BREAK YOUR ARM."
Advocates worry about poor, working families because they're paying more for basic necessities like food and housing. And for more than half of them, housing costs take up more than 30 percent of their incomes.
They say many families will often have to choose between paying for such things like bills and health care.
Terry Haven/Kids Count Coordinator, Utah Children: "IT PUTS THE FAMILIES ON A VERY SLIPPERY EDGE THAT CAN BE KIND OF DANGEROUS. WE DON'T WANT THEM TO MAKE THOSE KINDS OF CHOICES AND YET THAT'S HAPPENING."
The report also shows states including Utah had more babies born with low birth weights and more single parent families.