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A New Report Ranked the Best and Worst States to Raise a New Child In

This is one of the more comprehensive lists of its kind.

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A recent report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore based nonprofit aimed at improving the circumstances of children across the country, has ranked the best and worst states in which to raise a child. The study, called Kids Count, came to their conclusion by measuring data in categories like economic security, the availability of good educational resources, overall health, and family and communal relations. Each of the categories was then broken down further using “measures” like substance abuse and poverty. They concluded that, of the 50 states, New Hampshire takes the top spot and New Mexico ranks the lowest.

“Our measures are not just about the well-being of children in the moment of childhood but also measures that the research shows are connected to success in adulthood,” said Laura Speer, co-director of the report told CNN. “We wanted to capture, as much as we could, the range of factors that impact a child’s life — not just what happens in school, not just what’s happening in the economy — all of these things have an impact on children’s lives.”

The top 10 states:

1) New Hampshire
2) Massachusetts
3) New Jersey
4) Minnesota
5) Iowa
6) Utah
7) Connecticut
8) Vermont
9) Nebraska
10) Virginia

The bottom 10 states:
41) Arkansas
42) Alabama
43) Texas
44) Oklahoma
45) Arizona
46) Alaska
47) Nevada
48) Mississippi
49) Louisiana
50) New Mexico

In an effort to present a more holistic view of a child’s well being in any particular state, the study looked to calculate their rankings using data from a host of government agencies like the US Census Bureau or the National Center for Education Statistics, rather than just focus on one domain like health or socio-economic status. This means that while some states in the top 10 rank high on the overall list, they could easily come up short in more specific categories. For example, while Kansas comes in eighth in terms of economic well being, the state doesn’t even crack the top 20 in terms of family and community.

While the data presented in the report can be for children up to two-years-old, the report was still able to point out some systemic disadvantages that certain kids still face. In practically every measure that the study used, black, American Indian and Latino kids were worse off than their white or Asian peers. Speer did note that there simply isn’t good enough data on things like childhood obesity, or how the justice system affects different kinds of kids by state. That being the case, there could be layers that the study is simply not addressing thoroughly enough.  

Despite this, the  Kids Count study is definitely more thorough than some other lists that look to establish which states are the best for raising or having kids. For example, a study conducted by Wallethub last year, per their name, established which states were the best on a more economic basis, often measuring things like “family friendliness” in terms of cost rather than focusing on outcomes and using data sets that encompass more. As a result of this, they found that Vermont was the number one state for raising a child, while the state only ranked eighth on the Kids Count list.