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By GWEN SISSON
Collecting data and highlighting the best practices for improving the lives of Mississippi children have been major priorities for the Mississippi Kids Count program.
Mississippi Kids Count is considered the leading resource for information on Mississippiâ€™s children, focusing primarily in the areas of health, safety, education and economic well-being.
Since January 2007, the Mississippi Kids Count program has been housed within the Family and Children Research Unit (FCRU) at the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University.
Linda H. Southward serves as the director of Mississippi Kids Count and she is a research professor in the MSU Social Science Research Center.
She said the goals of the Mississippi Kids County programi nclude:
â€˘ Collect, analyze, and maintain a comprehensive database of indicators concerning the health, education, safety and well-being of Mississippiâ€™s children;
â€˘Publish and disseminate high-quality data and research reports;
â€˘ And build a solid reputation as a credible, reliable source of information about Mississippiâ€™s children and families.
Southward said money raised through the Egg Ball will go to provide scholarships for individuals who work with children on a daily basis and students to attend the annual Mississippi Kids Count Summit, as well as print additional Databooks, so that every school and municipal libraries can have copies of these in their collection.
Last year, the organization distributed about 1,500 Data Books and the demand continues, despite the fact that the annual Data Books are also on-line.
â€śAnd we also want to promote more community awareness of the work of successful programs across the state of Mississippi and to showcase the great work of these programs,â€ť Southward said.
Mississippi Kids Count is funded, in part, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF). The national Kids Count program began its state-level work in the early 1990s. Mississippi Kids Count is part of a national network of Kids Count state grantees.