- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A recently released report on Indiana youth shows homelessness and poverty have dropped statewide, but other problems persist, including rising infant mortality rates.

The Indiana Youth Institute’s annual report says nearly 21 percent of children younger than 18 lived in poverty in 2015, a slight improvement from nearly 22 percent in 2014.

The number of public school students identified as homeless or housing unstable in the state dropped from more than 17,400 to more than 16,100 between 2015 and 2016.

The state has an infant mortality rate of 7.3 per 1,000, which exceeds the national average of 5.9 per 1,000. The report says more than 600 children died in Indiana before their first birthday in 2015.

The rate of child abuse and neglect has been rising steadily in Indiana since 2011.

More than half of the removals that the Department of Children’s Services did of children from homes in 2015 were due to parental substance abuse.

“It’s most often neglect because if the parents are blacked out or passed out, they’re not able to care for their children appropriately,” said Tami Silverman, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. “So it’s not active abuse in many cases but it’s certainly neglect.”

Silverman said all Indiana residents are mandated reporters and that they should report any child neglect or abuse they witness.

“Make sure that child is safe,” Silverman said. “Make sure appropriate authorities and professionals get involved. You may think if you’re a friend or family member you can work it out, but often those cases are so much more complex than you might understand.”

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