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Great Lakes Region Statistics

The purpose of the Child Well-Being Needs Assessment (CWBNA) is to learn about the well-being of the child and family population, identify contributing factors or higher risk contributors to poorer outcomes for children, and determine what assets and resources are available to improve child well-being in Ohio.

As part of the planning process each region must inform the development of a comprehensive needs assessment that communicates the needs identified in the region’s respective counties. This report represents the culmination of numerous data collection efforts to develop a comprehensive needs assessment for the Central Ohio region.

Collaborative Process for Sharing and Analyzing Data

This needs assessment was developed through a collaborative process of collecting and analyzing data, involving many sectors of the community – state and local government, non-profits, community foundations, health care providers, academia, the state health department, ensuring representation of populations that are at higher risk or have poorer outcomes including kinship care providers and young parents. 

The Great Lakes Ohio prevention planning process relied on data from multiple sources, both qualitative and quantitative, to identify child abuse and neglect prevention priorities. Nearly 100 service providers and prevention specialists participated in an online survey and a community forum and 43 caregivers and community members participated in an online survey. Secondary quantitative data analysis used data sources related to child maltreatment and well-being from federal, state, and local sources.

The intent of the needs assessment process was to identify significant trends, issues, and developments in child well-being, identifying current strategies and gaps in service throughout the region. Sources of data for this report include the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the Ohio Department of Education, the Bureau of the Census’ American Community Survey, the Ohio Development Services Agency, the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Feeding America in partnership with the USDA Economic Research Service. The most current data and five-year trend data were obtained wherever possible. Additional effort was made to standardize key indicators by county for comparison purposes and to enable targeted strategy implementation. Please refer to the appendices for the survey, focus group, and secondary data summaries.

This analysis of population trends and projections in the Great Lakes Region indicates that one in five residents in the Great lakes Region is under the age of 18. Ninety-thousand children are under the age of five. Young children, under the age of 4, are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect. Over the past three years, one in five family risk assessments indicate parental emotional/mental health functioning or substance use is a risk contributor to child abuse and neglect. One, out of every five families, struggles with poverty in the region and children living in poverty are more concentrated in Cuyahoga and Ashtabula Counties. 

Review of the data from these sources also revealed the following challenges with respect to child abuse and neglect prevention efforts in the region.

  • Just over 31,000 allegations of child abuse and neglect were reported in 2019 in the Great Lakes Region.
  • Reports of child abuse and neglect in Cuyahoga County far outpace the State of Ohio and the region. 
  • One out of every five family risk assessments indicate substance use or emotional/mental functioning is a risk contributor to child abuse and neglect reports. 35.2% of family assessments indicate substance use in Lake County in 2019, which is considerably higher than the state or region. Similarly, 36.1% of assessments in Ashtabula County and 31.6% of assessments in Lake County indicate emotional/mental health functioning is a risk contributor of child abuse or neglect compared to 21.7% of assessments in the region.
  • In the Great Lakes Region, one out of every eight reported victims of domestic violence are children. 
  • According to the American Community Survey, 2018 data for Great Lakes Region showed the percentage of children in families with income below the poverty level was higher than the state or nation, and this was particularly true for children in Ashtabula and Cuyahoga counties. 
  • The percentage of children in the region experiencing food insecurity in 2018 was higher than the state or nation and again children living in Ashtabula and Cuyahoga counties were affected the greatest. 
  • 16.5% of the region’s students enrolled in school reported one or more disabilities.
  • In focus groups and surveys, service providers and caregivers agree there is a lack of concrete supports like childcare, substance abuse/mental health treatment, and respite care. Respondents also identified other services like housing assistance, food assistance, and other cash or financial assistance as priority needs.
  • Focus group respondents indicated that expanding programs to the rural areas of the region can be challenging as many of the programs available in the region are funded by organizations who assist specific populations or geographies, limiting the ability to address other target audiences within the region.

Access the full Needs Assessment for a comprehensive view of the scope of the child abuse and neglect issue in the Great Lakes Ohio Region.