"It's a very telling statistic. We're not talking about little schools, we're talking about enrichment activities, where kids get a lot of love, structured play and they are read to," Hale said. "These are the kinds of things that happen at early childhood developments."
Hale said Kids Count is currently working on improving the quality of programs for children.
In 2009, state lawmakers passed legislation to set up a framework for a quality-rating and improvement system (QRIS) for child care, but didn't provide funding to start the program, a grassroots campaign that will begin next month, Hale said.
The voluntary system would rate the state's child care programs and give the programs incentives to get better. Child care centers would get varying levels of reimbursement -- based on their quality rating -- for taking care of low-income kids.
Other financial incentives would include grants and scholarships to increase teacher training, with hopes of eventually improving quality.
"People need to put pressure on the administration to invest in early childhood [education]. They need to put pressure on the education system to do better," Hale said.
The report also shows that in the three other categories, West Virginia was ranked:
About 144,000 kids (37 percent) in the state had parents without secure employment in 2010, a 16 percent increase - and representing about 22,000 children -- in the two-year period. Nationally, one-third of America's children had parents without secure employment -- a 22 percent increase from 2008 to 2010.
West Virginia has the nation's highest percentage of teen births, which has risen 16 percent from 2005 to 2009. Nationwide, the rate has fallen 1 percent.
Only 5 percent of the state's children do not have health insurance, compared to 8 percent nationwide.
For more information call West Virginia Kids Count Fund at 304-345-2101 or visit wvkidscountfund.org.
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.