The kids are alright -- but some more than others, according to a report released August 17. The 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, put out by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of “vulnerable children and families,” ranks all 50 U.S. states based on ten indicators that they have determined represent overall child well-being.
The 10 indicators include quite a few health factors as well as several social and economic factors. Each state was given a score based on:
1. Percentage of low-birthweight babies
2. Infant mortality rate
3. Child death rate
4. Teen death rate
5. Teen birth rate
6. Percent of teens not in school and not high school graduates
7. Percent of teens not attending school or working
8. Percent of children living in homes where no parent has full-time employment
9. Percent of children in poverty
10. Percent of children in single-parent families
Each of these factors has the ability to greatly impact a child’s outcomes later in life -- health or otherwise. And each indicator is invariably interconnected with the others. One of the most obvious cases of this is the connection between poverty and health coverage. For example, according to the U.S. Census, in 2009, while only 9.1 percent of people living in households with a total annual income of $75,000 or more were uninsured, when it came to households with incomes under $25,000 that rate rose to 26.6 percent.
The indicators selected by The Annie E. Casey Foundation give us an idea of where we are doing well when it comes to child health and well-being -- and where we still fall short. When it comes to infant mortality rates, child death rates, teen death rates and teen pregnancies, the U.S. has improved overall in the last few years (although the statistics still aren't great). The percentage of low-birthweight babies, as well as the percentage of children living in poverty and in single-parent families, have increased. The report indicates that much of this increase can be explained by the economic recession that the country has been experiencing since 2008.
Geography also plays a role as outcomes for children vary widely between states. In general, the Northeast and Midwest seemed to fare best, while southern states dominated the bottom 10. We’ve gathered a list of the 10 states that ranked best based on the foundation’s indicators -- and the 10 that did worst. Where does your home state fall?
The full list of rankings by state can be accessed here.