South Carolina's numbers

Racial/ethnic group U.S. score S.C. score

African-American 345 293

Hispanic or Latino 404 371

Non-Hispanic white 704 640

Asian Pacific Islander 776 779

American Indian-Alaska Native 387 *

* Too small to measure

Note: The above scores are based on 12 measures of education, poverty and health. A score of 1,000 is perfect.

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation

Children of South Carolina's three largest racial and ethnic groups continue to rank below their national peers as far as health, education and poverty.

That's according to a new Kids Count report, "Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children," released Tuesday by the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Sue Williams, chief executive officer of the Children's Trust of South Carolina, said regardless of race, the state's children don't fare as well as children in other states when it comes to opportunities and equality.

"The news here is the conditions for children of color are significantly more challenging, and we need to do more," she said.

Children in each state's racial and ethnic groups were measured 12 ways: birth weight; enrollment in nursery school, preschool or kindergarten; 4th grade reading scores; 8th grade math scores; teen pregnancies; high school graduation rates; employment among 19- to 26-year-olds; college degrees; parent's education levels; single-parent families; family income; and their community's poverty rate.

The groups then were given a single score, and South Carolina's white, African-American and Hispanic groups all scored below the national average.

The state's Asian-Pacific Islander children scored just above the national average, though this group represents only 0.1 percent of the state's population, according to 2010 Census figures.

Melissa Strompolis, the Children's Trust coordinator of impact assessment and evaluation, said the new figures probably won't surprise those working to improve the condition of the state's children, but it's important to spread the word as the state seeks solutions.

Williams applauded Gov. Nikki Haley's $65 million education initiative to expand 4-year-old kindergarten in some of the state's poorest counties, "(but) there is more that we can do to ensure the next generation has equal opportunity, regardless of race or geography."

Strompolis said the trust hopes to break down the data by race and county this summer, a step that would help local nonprofits and others identify the demographics that need the most help. Knowing that could help tailor the response.

"It could be something as simple as the way you advertise your program," she said.

She also said the Children's Trust has not identified a list of priorities but hopes to bring together parents, lawmakers and others to try to reach a consensus of what should change next.

"Our role at the Children's Trust will be to bring these people together, present them with some of this data, and have them come up with what to do, who's going to do it and by when. Our goal is to get the state involved in this rather than just us."

The national report noted that in 2013, for the first time, more children of color were born in the United States than white children. In a generation, whites will no longer represent the majority of the population.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.