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 2013-17, 21% of Berks children were living in poverty, up 8 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 2013-17, 44% 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 2013-17, single parenting was nearly twice as prevalent among Hispanic and African American families (53% and 57% respectively) compared to white (35%) 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 2013-17 – 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 Increasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Maintaining
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Decreasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population ratio Increasing
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 County/Region for Work Increasing
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Quality Early Childhood Centers Not Applicable
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 English Decreasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 English Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Decreasing
Student Performance on High School English Decreasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Increasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Maintaining
Living Wage Maintaining
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Increasing
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
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 Decreasing
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing