Vigo County officials receive shocking rankings during ‘State of the Child’ conference

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They say it takes a village to raise a child, and some say our village needs to come together for the success of Children in Vigo County.

Today Vigo County School officials and other community members received troublesome statistics about the state of Vigo County children.

Officials from the Indiana Youth Institute say now is the time for action.

Michele Orndorff is the Director of Education for Mental Health America, and she says she knows from experience that vulnerable youth need more than just one advocate to succeed.

“Due to his trauma with foster care. Not being adopted and family to family and just so much. He needed more. He needed more mentorship. He needed more school counselors. He needed more hope,” she said. “Since I was young in my twenties I did not know his complete story, I was just trying to help him. Unfortunately today he is in prison for murdering someone.” 

There are 92 counties in Indiana, Vigo County ranks 4 for children in poverty, 17 for students receiving free or reduced lunch, 6 for food insecurity, and 26 for students experiencing homelessness.

 “Our children are living in poverty compared to the rest of the state,” said Vigo County Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Haworth. “When you’re in the top five of that list that’s troublesome.”

In addition to food insecurity, Indiana holds the second highest ranking for child abuse and neglect cases in the nation.

“That really breaks my heart. And we have to do better. We don’t have a choice,” said Project Aware Coach Megan Kirk. “We have to do better in how we’re treating our children.”

The children are struggling, and it’s an epidemic that requires the attention of all community members.

“I think we can start addressing many of the topics that were being brought up in that room. Everything from healthcare, neglect, to poverty,” said Dr. Haworth. “All those pieces I think are remedied only through the work of the entire community.”

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