When you're choosing where to settle down and start raising the family, there's a lot on your mind. Are your children going to grow up and look back on a good childhood? Help is on the way! The Annie E. Casey Foundation has looked into the well-being of kids in each state to determine the best and worst places in America to raise children.
Their list is based on several individual rankings, which include: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community statistics. Based on all four sectors of data, the Foundation then ranked all 50 states, from best to worst, and you'll be shocked to read some of the scary numbers.
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We've included the 10 best (in order of best to worse), and 10 worst (in order of better to worst) in the list below. Take a look:
Are the statistics true for your state?
For the first time in several years, Massachusetts has trumped previous front-runner New Hampshire as the best state to raise children. It ranked first in education, second in health, eighth in family and community, and has the lowest state rate (1 percent) of children without health coverage.
Vermont ranked second on the overall list, but is most impressive in its academic achievements and retention rates. Along with South Dakota, Vermont has the lowest rate of teens not in school and not working (4 percent), as well as the lowest percent of kids not graduating from high school (7 percent).
Not only does it rank third overall, but Iowa is also third in economic well-being, seventh in family and community rankings, and first in health for children and families.
New Hampshire comes in at number four overall, and the Live Free or Die state ranks 12th in economic well-being and fourth in education, and has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the country: only 14 of 1,000 live births were to teen moms.
Like South Dakota and Vermont, Minnesota has one of the lowest rates of teens not in school and not working (5 percent), and ranks in the top 10 in several other factors: economic (fourth), education (sixth), and family and community (fifth).
While it may rank sixth in overall child well-being, North Dakota has the nation's lowest rate of child poverty (13 percent) and the lowest percentage of families where parents did not have a secure job (19 percent).
The seventh best state, Connecticut, is also the fifth best in education, eighth in health, and ninth in family and community. Nationwide, it also has the lowest rate in child and teen deaths -- 17 deaths per 100,000 children and youth.
New Jersey is the eighth best state for child well-being but is most recognized for its education initiatives. About 8 out of every 10 of 3- and 4-year-olds in the Garden State's poorest districts are in high-quality preschool programs, giving each child a better education throughout the state regardless of family income.
Virginia has ranked highly in all four categories: 11th in economic well-being, 10th in education, 11th in health, and 12th in family and community well-being.
Rounding out the top 10 states, Nebraska ranks highly in economic well-being (fifth), but is ninth in education, mostly because of its high rates of high school graduation. It has the highest rate in the country -- more than 93 percent of kids graduate from high school.
Arkansas currently ranks as the 40th best state or, really, the 10th worst. It recently experienced the largest decline in uninsured kids in all of the states since 1990. Right now, 6 percent of children in the state are uninsured, while just in 1997, 22 percent of children were without health insurance, so things are on the upswing.
While it's the ninth worst state in terms of overall child well-being in the country, the Peach State also recently experienced one of the largest proportional gains in its child population since 2000. It ranks 44th in economic well-being and 40th in education.
Texas ranks 43rd overall but falls way down on the family and community well-being list: 47th!
Alabama's overall ranking was mostly hurt by its education statistics. It's currently the 45th state in education well-being and it's shown through one simple statistic: about 80 percent of eighth graders in Alabama are not proficient in math.
South Carolina ranked in the bottom 10 in all categories: 41st in economic well-being, 43rd in education, 43rd in health, and 41st in family and community.
Similarly, Arizona also ranks toward the bottom of all four rankings: it's 46th in economic well-being, 44th in education, 44th in health, 46th in family and community. Additionally, the report shows that only 33 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in the state are attending preschool!
Louisiana, the fourth worst state in the country for overall child well-being, is in the bottom pack of all four trends: it is 43rd economic well-being, 47th education, 42nd health, and 48th in family and community.
And the bottom three starts with: Nevada. It ranks as 47th in economic well-being and in health, 44th in family and community, and dead last in education. Additionally, 40 percent of students in Nevada don't graduate high school, and the state has the highest percentage of children without health insurance (17 percent)!
The runner-up to worst state for child well-being? New Mexico, which was 49th in all categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. It also had the highest percentage (12 percent) of teenagers who are neither in school nor employed, as well as the highest rate of substance abuse among teenagers (9 percent, tied with Montana).
Finally, we have Mississippi, the 50th-ranked state for child well-being. And here's why: it ranks at the bottom or closely in every single category, has the highest rate (40 percent) of families without a secure income, the highest rate of (35 percent) child poverty, and over 49 percent of children live in single-parent homes (the largest in the country).