Monday, August 27, 2001

Cincinnati average for child living




By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati ranks near the middle of 140 cities for “kid friendliness”, earning a B average in a ranking by a national environmental group.

        Zero Population Growth, a Washington nonprofit urging population-control policies, ranked cities by such criteria as access to good education, jobs and health care.

ONLINE
  To view the report card online, see:
www.kidfriendlycities.org/2001/
        Its biennial report card on how children fair in cities factors in such statistics as teen birth rates, infant mortality rates, average classroom sizes, and the number of libraries and playgrounds.

        Cincinnati received an A-plus for “community life” - counting parks, libraries and attendance at children's programs - but a C-minus in health care. Local child advocates say the report could be a tool to target areas for improvement.

        “What it shows is a fragmentation of what we do for children. We're not hooking the health of the children into all the other things,” said Eileen Cooper Reed, director of the Children's Defense Fund's Cincinnati office.

        The ranking appears in the 2001 Kid-Friendly Cities Report Card released Tuesday. Zero Population examined 239 cities and suburban incorporated areas with populations of 100,000 or more, grouping them into three size categories.

        The report card gave no city below a C-minus. Zero Population Growth President Peter H. Kostmayer said that is because cities in general are becoming more child friendly, with safer streets, a full-employment economy and access to health care.

        Mr. Kostmayer, a former U.S. Congressman and Clinton Administration official, cautioned that the needs to reduce violent crime and provide good, stable jobs for families are urgent.

        Cincinnati's regional ranking reflects poor living environments for many minority and Appallachian children, said Ms. Cooper Reed.

        “Getting a B is pretty good, but I know the statistics for minority children are terrible,” she said.

        “It is those children that we need to be paying more attention to. If we help the children who have the most needs, we help all of our children.”

        Cincinnati ranked 68, near such cities as Akron (64), Kansas City, Mo., (65) and Reno, Nev., (69). Elsewhere in Ohio, Columbus received the only A (25), Toledo a B-plus (43) and Dayton merited a B-minus (90).

        Cleveland was rated among the 25 Major Cities in the report, ranking 15th with a B, better than Chicago and Philadelphia but worse than St. Louis or Pittsburgh.

        Among the best kids cities: Burlington, Vt.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Sioux Falls, S.D. Among the worst for children: San Bernardino and Fresno, Calif., Flint, Mich., and Macon, Ga.



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