A community’s future is inextricably linked to the health and well-being of its children. In this section, we highlight the trends for measures of a healthy start in life such as early prenatal care, for risk factors such as poverty and exposure to lead among young children, and for risk behaviors from teen pregnancy to juvenile delinquency. In all cases, comparisons to state statistics reflect the state excluding New York City.
In summary, Cayuga and Seneca counties have:
- Low rates of low birth-weight babies and lead exposure among young children, relative to the state
- Higher rates of child poverty and single-parent families, relative to the state
- Declining rates of teen pregnancy
- Falling levels of Persons in Need of Supervision petitions for noncriminal misconduct among youth
- A mixed picture on juvenile delinquency, with some measures declining and others rising
Rates of early prenatal care have been above state levels in Cayuga but below in Seneca. In 2009, 81% of mothers in Cayuga and 65% of mothers in Seneca received early prenatal care, compared to 75% in the state.
A smaller proportion of babies were born with low birth weights in both counties than in the state. In 2009, about 5% of babies born in Cayuga and Seneca counties had low birth weights, below the state rate of 7.7%. Rates in Cayuga have been falling since a high of 9% in 2004.
Very low proportions of children who are tested for exposure to lead had elevated levels, just 0.6% in both counties in 2008. That’s below the state level and most comparison counties.
The estimated child poverty rate in 2006-10 was 20% in Cayuga and 22% in Seneca, about level with the nation but higher than 14% in the state. Poverty was up 5 points in Cayuga and 6 points in Seneca from 2000 levels.
The incidence of single-parent families was higher in the counties than in the state and nation. In 2006-10, 35% of Cayuga families with children were led by a single parent and 37% in Seneca, higher than the state rate of 30% and the national rate of 33%. The rate rose 5 points in Cayuga and 7 points in Seneca since 2000, compared to 4-point increases in the state and nation.
Rates of reported child abuse in Cayuga are similar to state levels, but in Seneca are above the state rate. In 2010, there were 18 children (per 1,000) in “indicated” reports of child abuse or neglect in Cayuga County. Indicated reports are those in which there is credible evidence abuse occurred. The rate in Seneca was 25, compared to 17 in the state. Cayuga’s rate has increased 54% since 2000, but its rates were consistently below comparison counties and often the state throughout the decade. Seneca’s rates fluctuated up and down through the decade, ending 8% lower than in 2000.
Teen pregnancy has become less common in the counties. In 2009, the rate of pregnancy among females ages 15-19 was about 4% in Cayuga and 3% in Seneca, similar to the state rate of 4%. The rate in Cayuga declined from 5% in 2000, similar to state trends. Seneca rates have fluctuated since 2000 but reached a new low in 2009.
The rate of PINS petitions (Persons in Need of Supervision, a measure of non-criminal misconduct among youth such as truancy, incorrigibility, disobedience or running away from home) more than 60% in both counties since 2000. The rate of PINS petitions was 0.6 per 1,000 youth in Cayuga and 2.8 in Seneca in 2010, similar to the state rate of 2.1. However, compared to the early years of the decade, the counties and the state all have lower rates in recent years. Officials attribute the large declines statewide to stronger and more active programs diverting PINS youth to alternative programs.
The picture of juvenile delinquency painted by available data was mixed. Intakes into the system were down in both counties, with Cayuga above the state level and Seneca below. Juvenile delinquency petitions in court increased in both counties in the most recent year, particularly in Seneca, and were above state levels.
In 2010, juvenile delinquency intake rates per 10,000 children were 93 in Cayuga and 30 in Seneca, compared to a state rate of 77. Rates have declined 37% in Cayuga and 74% in Seneca since 2000. The rate of juvenile delinquency petitions per 10,000 children was 105 in Cayuga and 163 in Seneca, compared to 71 in the state in 2010. The rate in Cayuga has declined 24% since 2000, similar to the 25% decline statewide. The rate for Seneca had been declining from a peak in 2004, but then more than tripled from 2009 to 2010, with a total of 70 juvenile delinquency petitions in 2010.