County: The best place to raise children
For Platte County residents, being ranked number one
in several areas is something they have become accustomed
According to Kid Count 2000, these factors, as well as
many others combined to name Platte County the number
one county in the state of Missouri to raise your children.
KIDS COUNT in Missouri (KCM) is a four-year collaborative
project of Citizens for Missouri's Children and more than
30 public and private organizations from across the state.
The project's mission is to improve the well-being of
Missouri's children by heightening awareness of children's
issues within local communities and by promoting more
effective responses to children's needs throughout the
The study evaluates child population within the county,
children in poverty, adult unemployment rate, high school
graduation rate, children receiving AFDC and food stamps,
annual high school dropouts and births to mothers with
under 12 years of education, among many other factors.
For the second consecutive year, Platte County has majored
up to the State of Missouri's standards and remained in
the number one spot out of 115 counties within the state.
"We should feel proud that the county in which we
live has ranked number one the past two years in a row
as the best place in Missouri to raise children,"
said Director of the Platte County Health Department Mary
"We have the best of both worlds here. We are close
to Kansas City and yet rural enough that we don't have
the problems of an inner city. The citizens of Platte
County have definite pride in where we live and we want
to continue to keep the county a good place to live for
adults, as well as children."
Everhart stated one of the reasons for the top status
is the growth of the county's population.
"Our population growth being in the higher income
bracket I feel helps our county statistics," stated
Everhart. "Where as other enterprises like the City
of St. Louis (ranked 115) have more lower income families
which tends to skew the results due to the lack of money
for health services.
"When it comes down to a choice of paying the bills
you have to to survive every month, you have to let some
things slide. And in most cases, it's health services."
For Platte County the public clinic immunization rate
from 1995 to 1999 has increased from 76.9% to 82.5%. Children
with elevated blood lead levels has decreased dramatically
from 6.0% in 1997 to 2.8% in 1999.
"We (health department) have nearly doubled our
increase in clinic availability to the public," said
The Platte County Health Department also opened a second
facility in Riverside, which is open five days a week,
to accommodate the "lower income pocket of the county,"
"One of the reasons for our facility in Riverside
is because of the already existing infrastructure of lower-income
apartment complexes," explained Everhart. "The
City of Riverside is currently experiencing a lot of growing
and changing within the community to overcome that poverty
In 2000, Platte County serviced 34,593 patients through
nursing services. While 2,338 people were serviced in
2000 through environmental health services.
One area Platte County saw an increase in was probable
cause child abuse/neglect. The statistics raised from
113 cases to 330 cases.
"This is definitely an area we're going to want
to address. One thing we have to look at is are there
more cases or are there more people speaking up,"
In February the Platte County Health Department will
be looking at its strategic planning efforts.
"We will try and plan by using the counties specific
data as far as services we need to offer the community
in the future," said Everhart. "We will always
do our core functions as we always do, but we also need
to look outside that comfort zone to look at issues we
need to address for the health of our counties citizens."
Other areas in the Kids Count 2000 report included a
decrease of children in poverty from 9.3% to 5%, a decrease
in children receiving AFDC from 3.3% to 1% and children
receiving food stamps from 10% to 6.4%. While the annual
high school dropouts decreased from 110 to 105 and students
enrolled in free and reduced lunches placed the county
second in the state, with enrollment up 1,371 in 1995
to 1,413 in 1999.
"I believe the school is a mircrocosim of the county
and the community. The school being reflected in the county
and how the district is perceived by the State of Missouri,"
said Mark Harpst, superintendent of Platte County R-3
Harpst stated that the state's top recognition of the
county also coincides with the state's recognition of
the school district's honor of accreditation with distinction.
"Despite our growth, it shows that we are handling
the needs of our kids, parents and community in an appropriate
"The Kids Count report illustrates that we have
very good departments working for our kids," stated
Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight. "It's a great
honor to be recognized in the areas of the health department,
school districts, county and community. It shows as a
whole we are doing this for our kids."
Knight says a report such as this helps spur the county's
"The Kids Count report says people in the county
care about our kids and it makes people want to move here.
Platte County is the best place to raise our kids and
when this information gets noticed, it'll make people
want to move here," explained Knight. "That's
why we have to work hard to keep doing the right things
to support those other agencies who are working hard to
take care of our kids."