Children & Youth

More children in Berks County are living in poverty and in single-parent households, with deep disparities among children of different racial and ethnic groups. However, there are positive trends for Berks County’s children, too – many more women are accessing prenatal care, and the teen birth rate has dropped significantly.

Prenatal care, which is critical in reducing risks for complications of pregnancy and birth, was a bright spot in Berks County, with 84% of all mothers receiving prenatal care in their first trimester, higher than state and national rates. In addition, Berks compares very favorably with the state and nation in prenatal care for racial and ethnic groups: In 2017, 79% of Hispanic women, 82% of African American women, 84% of white women and 100% of Asian women in the county received early prenatal care. 

Growing up in poverty puts children at higher risk for long-term health and social problems, diminishing their chances for success as adults. In 2012-16, 23% of Berks children were living in poverty, up 10 percentage points since 2000, a larger increase than the state and nation experienced. Throughout the nation and Berks, poverty is higher for some racial and ethnic groups: In 2012-16, 47% of Hispanic children and 34% of African American children in Berks County lived at or below the poverty line, compared to 17% of white and 21% of Asian children. The local rates for Hispanic children are higher than for Pennsylvania and the nation.

Children raised by single parents are more likely to grow up in low-income households. In Berks County, 36% of families are headed up single parents, up 10 points from 2000. As with child poverty, there are racial disparities for this indicator nationwide and in Berks. In 2012-16, single parenting was nearly twice as prevalent among Hispanic and African American families (54% and 59% respectively) compared to white (36%) families in Berks County. Rates were up among white and Hispanic families since 2000. The county’s rates were similar to the state and nation, except for Hispanic families, who had a much lower national rate (41%).

About 7% of youths ages 16 to 19 in Berks County were disengaged in 2012-16 – not working or attending school. That’s flat since 2000 and similar to Pennsylvania and the U.S.

Teen births can prevent a young woman from completing her education or becoming financially self-sufficient. Babies born to teen mothers also are at higher risk for poor educational outcomes and living in poverty. Berks County’s teen birth rate fell 51% from 2000 to 2017, from 41 per 1,000 teens to 20 per 1,000. This drop was similar to Pennsylvania, but less than the nation.

Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population Ratio Decreasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Increasing
Local Government Spending Increasing
County Government Spending Decreasing
School District Spending Increasing
Quality Early Childhood Centers Increasing
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on High School Reading Increasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Median Household Income Decreasing
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage by Household Type Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Health Status Decreasing
Managed Medicaid Enrollment Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Maintaining
Adults Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Children Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Youth Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Vacant Housing Units Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Age of Housing Stock Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Maintaining
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Increasing
Tourism Spending Decreasing
Voter Registration Rate Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Increasing
Charitable Contributions as a Percentage of Income Increasing
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Decreasing
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing