Which State Ranks Highest for Child Well-Being?

The report analyzes data relating to economic well-being, education, health and family and community.

The report analyzes data relating to economic well-being, education, health and family and community. shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The KIDS Count Data Book, an annual release, analyzes child well-being in each states based on 16 indicators in four categories.

New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New Jersey lead the country in overall child well-being, while New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi rank at the bottom, according to a recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The KIDS Count Data Book, an annual project, analyzes child well-being in each states based on 16 indicators in four categories—economic well-being, education, health and family, and community.

New Hampshire, the first state overall, had high rankings in each category. The state has the lowest rate of child poverty in the nation (8 percent) and ranked fourth in education, a metric that included an 11th-place ranking for the number of 3- and 4-year-olds not attending school. But despite its second-place health ranking, the report found that five percent New Hampshire’s teens have abused drugs and alcohol—24th in the country for that indicator.

“Up to this point in New Hampshire, local communities have stepped up to the plate to ensure child well-being even when state investments are lacking,” Rebecca Woitkowski, early childhood policy coordinator at nonprofit New Futures Kids Count, said in a statement. “Going forward, our lawmakers should be looking to address some major issues facing our state when it comes to supporting children, including child protection and the continuing opiate crisis.”

New Mexico, which ranked 50th overall, was last or close to last in each of the four major categories. The state was 49th in economic well-being, partially due to its child poverty rate, which increased 29 percent from last year’s survey. That means an additional 4,000 children are living below the 2016 federal poverty line of $24,339 for a family of four, even as the national child poverty rate dropped by 2 percentage points.

An additional 5,000 New Mexico children are also part of families where no parent has a full-time, year-round job.

“New Mexico’s dismal rating should serve as a wake-up call to our state that we must act, and that action must be comprehensive and sustained,” James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said in a statement. “While most of the other states saw progress on child well-being, New Mexico actually got worse on several key indicators. The data show we are at a crossroads—we can continue to disinvest in our children or we can insist upon a new direction, one in which we make a deep commitment to improving conditions for all New Mexicans.”

See how all the states ranked here.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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