Juvenile arrests and gang-related deaths have decreased in the county, but poverty is affecting more children than ever, the local United Way said Monday.
In a "state of the county" report, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles said that youths in the county, the nation's most populous with more than 9.2 million residents, are likelier to be victims than perpetrators. It said gang-related deaths, which peaked at 800 in 1992, fell to 719 in 1993--down 10% and the first decline in 10 years.
The United Way report drew on Census Bureau data, information from other government agencies and many specialized reports. It is the third county snapshot complied since 1987 by the regional group, which raises money for more than 300 service agencies, mostly from individuals at work.
The United Way report said that children's health care is improving, with better prenatal care, insurance and immunization. The infant death rate is falling while graduation rates are rising.
"But in terms of economic well-being all the measures are worse," said Marjorie Nichols, director of research projects for the group. "Children are most affected by poverty of any age group and it's been getting worse and worse."
The number of children below the poverty level and on Aid to Families With Dependent Children, the biggest federal welfare program, has risen sharply. In 1988, 16% of children were on AFDC. By 1992, the latest year for which figures are available, it was 24%.
"Homelessness among children has increased too," Nichols said. "Two percent of the children in the county were homeless sometime in 1992, compared with 1% of adults."