Dec. 8, 2002 – The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands will release its third annual Virgin Islands Kids Count report on Tuesday, when it also will initiate a "Silverbells and Cockleshells" recognition program, awarding a total of $5,000 to nine community organizations.
CFVI will release the 2002 report — titled "Our Children Now! Where Is Our Commitment?" — and recognize the nine honorees on Tuesday morning at the Tamarind Reef Hotel on St. Croix.
This third annual V.I. Kids Count report, part of a nationwide survey project, is the work of a partnership involving CFVI, the University of the Virgin Islands, and the territory's Education, Health, Human Services and Police Departments. "CFVI produces the Kids Count Report annually to allow the community to track progress and to learn over time about what works to improve the lives of our children and families," a release from the foundation stated.
"By providing policymakers and citizens with benchmarks of child well-being, Kids Count seeks to enrich local and national discussions concerning ways to secure better futures for all children," the release said. "The Kids Count U.S.V.I. report provides a detailed, island-by island picture of the condition of children in the territory."
The study report released a year ago disclosed that nearly 40 percent of the territory's children — and 47 percent those on St. Croix — lived below the federal poverty line, compared to about 20 percent nationwide. Further, about half of the children on St. John and St. Croix and 36 percent on St. Thomas lived with a single female parent, versus 27 percent nationally.
The first report, issued in October of 2000, revealed that nearly half the territory's children lived in poverty, more than one in five were high school dropouts, half lived in single-parent households and nearly one-third did not live with either parent.
In issuing the 2000 report, which was based on 1997 data, CFVI's president, Dee Baecher-Brown, said the point of doing the first benchmark survey was "not to have another report to sit on a shelf," but to mobilize the community. And she said it would become an annual undertaking involving CFVI, UVI and V.I. government agencies as part of the nationwide Kids Count program funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The 2001 Kids Count surveys, based on 1998 data, covered all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Community Foundation officials said with the release of the V.I. findings a year ago that they planned to continue taking part in the study, as it provides statistics that indicate where some of the most serious problems impacting the territory's children lie.
For more information on the 2000 and 2001 Kids Count reports, respectively, see "Survey paints a stark picture of kids in V.I." and "V.I. children face more poverty, absent fathers".
The new Silverbells and Cockleshells Awards will be given annually to "non-profit organizations and individuals in the U.S.V.I. that have demonstrated success in serving our children and families," a release from the Community Foundation stated.
It said the program is intended "to acknowledge and reward the hard work and tenacious spirit" of such groups and persons. "Each year, nominations selected for awards will represent the people, programs and organizations across the territory working on behalf of our most vulnerable children and families."

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