The overall message appears to be that progress is being made, but there’s still much work to do in improving the overall quality of life here in Cowlitz County, as Pathways 2020 presents the 2013 Report Card for this area. At last night’s rollout of the 2013 Cowlitz County Report Card, it was noted that Cowlitz County still lags significantly in median household income. The data shows that high unemployment is contributing to a lack of access to affordable health insurance, which can contribute to other poor health outcomes. The county is getting high marks for increasing the number of eligible children enrolled in Head Start, but that could be threatened if the federal government cuts funding for that program. Progress is also being made in reducing the percentage of high school dropouts, which is now below the state average of 4.1 percent. Paul Youmans with Pathways 2020 says that there is some serious concern about access to healthy foods in the local area, with the number of kids on the Free and Reduced Lunch program now at more than 54 percent county-wide. Other data shows that nearly 25 percent of pregnant women in the county smoke, more than 15 percent above the state average of less than ten percent. Progress is being made on gonorrhea infections, but Chlamydia continues to be a serious issue. Cowlitz County’s rates of child abuse and domestic violence also continue to be well above state averages. The overall crime rate continues to drop, and is now below the state average, and suicide rates are also below the state average. Youmans will be making full presentations of the Report Card to local governments and community groups over the next few weeks.