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5/11/2017 6:03:00 PM
DeKalb County lags in child care, mental-health providers

Dave Kurtz, Star Executive Editor KPC Media Group

AUBURN — Lack of licensed child care and mental health services are two of the challenges facing young people in DeKalb County, the Indiana Youth Institute said Tuesday.

The institute sponsored a Youth Worker Cafe at the Steininger Center of the DeKalb County Community Foundation in Auburn. More than 30 people attended from local agencies serving youth.

DeKalb County had 7.4 licensed child care slots per 100 children age 5 and younger in 2015. The state average is nearly 20 slots.

The institute’s graph showed a sharp decline in DeKalb County’s child care slots over the past decade. It had been 15-16 per hundred 10 years ago. It slipped to around 11 per hundred before another drop to 7.4 in 2015.

Audience members said the closing of child-care centers contributed to the low rate — most recently the closing of Butler Day Care Center.

Parents can’t afford licensed child care, participants in the seminar said. The average cost of licensed child care in DeKalb County is $5,786 per year, the institute’s statistics showed.

DeKalb County has one licensed mental health care provider for every 2,120 people of all ages, the institute said. Statewide, the rate is one for every 710 people.

“We have to start with just being OK with talking about them,” Katie Kincaid of Indiana Youth Institute said about suicide and depression.

“For kids who are already considering suicide, you’re doing a service if you ask them, and you’ll lower their risk,” Kincaid said.

In another key statistic, DeKalb County has a lower rate of children in poverty than Indiana as a whole.

DeKalb County saw 15 percent of its children living below the federal poverty line in 2015, compared to 20 percent statewide. DeKalb County’s rate has improved from 18.7 percent in 2013.

“We know there’s a lot of kids who are above the federal poverty level, but still in families who are struggling,” Kincaid said.

The institute’s reports show more than half of children in single-mother families live in poverty. Reports show 30 percent of DeKalb County children do not live with both parents, and 21 percent live in single-mother homes.

Like most Indiana rural counties, DeKalb County’s child population is shrinking. The county has 10,511 children under 18, down 7 percent over the last 15 years.

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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