The 5 Best (& Worst) States to Raise Your Kids

happy childNew Jersey may be famous for Snooki, Tanning Mom, and generally being the butt of a million jokes, but according to a new report, it's the number ONE best state to raise a kid in. Released by the Foundation for Child Development, the annual Child Well Being Index (CWI) is a state-by-state comparison of quality of life for kids. Fist pump?

The report weighs 28 indicators in seven categories, from family economic well-being and health to emotional/spiritual well-being. Curious to know where your state stacks up?

(See the new 2014 results at 10 Best & Worst Places to Raise a Kid: Is Yours on the List?)

You can read the entire Child Well Being Index for all the details, but here are some of the highlights: Overall, the report found that higher levels of child well-being are directly related to tax rates and the amount of money available for social and education programs. Quelle shock. The South and Southwest on the whole did the worst, while the East Coast and upper Midwest dominated the top 10. The West Coast didn't score so fabulously either -- my beloved home state of California only ranked at number 30. The five states with the BEST child well-being scores are ...

More from The Stir: 10 Best & Worst Places to Be Born in 2013

best worst states to raise kids1. New Jersey. I must say I'm not totally surprised. Though I never would have thought it when I moved here a decade ago, the Garden State has a lot going for it. In the CWI, New Jersey placed in the top 10 in five categories, and ranks at #1 for "social relationships," which looks at the number of children in single parent families and whether or not children have "moved in the past year." (Also please note: Many of those Jersey Shore kids are from Staten Island, NYC.)

2. Massachusetts. Also in the top 10 in five domains, MA came first in both the education attainment and community engagement (meaning attendance in school and prevalence of young adults voting) categories. The Kennedys must be proud!

3. New Hampshire. While doing very well over all, NH came in 45th in the emotional/spiritual domain, which factors in suicide rates and how often kids attend religious services.

4. Utah. The only western state in the top 10, Utah ranked first in the safe/risky behavior category, which looks at factors like prevalence of underage smoking and sex. (Am I the only one not surprised by this result?)

5. Connecticut. Back to the East Coast, CT ranked tops in the economic category -- no shock there, right Stepford Wives?

The five worst states, from least bad to absolute worst: Nevada, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and -- number 50 out of 50 -- New Mexico.

Do you think your state is a good place to raise children?


Image via adpk/Flickr

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B1Bomber B1Bomber

This feels a little biased to me...moving is not a negative to raising children, but if they count it, all the heavily military states automatcally bump down. Also, all those states have crappy weather. I would be bummed to grow up in a place where water gives you hypothermia even in the summer.

Lovin... LovinJerseyMama

Wow. First time I've heard something relatively positive about my state lol. Woo hoo! *fist pump & some jersey turnpike*

nonmember avatar Sweetness

Mississippi is not a bad state to raise your children. To some people up North, and on the East and West Coast they think the SOUTH is such a bad place. I was born and raise in Mississippi and I will stay until the day I die. MAYBE IF WE WERE MORE LIKE "TEEN MOM" well be liked.

nonmember avatar Kelly

This study was done in 2007. I seriously doubt it is still relivant. Can we not find new information to blog about?

nonmember avatar KateG

I'm a born and bred Mississippi girl. I don't live there now (job, family, etc., changed that). I wouldn't say it was the worst place to grow up. We had a low crime rate, and I was close to the beach. Where I live now is DEFINITELY worse. Would I go back to MS? Given the right circumstances (better job, finances, etc.), you bet I would. MS is one of the poorer states financially, but it's rich in so many other ways. Until you've actually lived there, you don't know what it has to offer!

nonmember avatar Linda

I was born and raised in Las Vegas Nevada and I plan on raising my daughter here. I love it there is always something to do. Sure it has some negitives but overall it is an awsome city i would never want to live anywhere but here.

Tara McGilveary-Stachoski

My 8 year old told my husband and I last night, that he was going to move to NJ, lol


Crystal Clarke

 I was born and raised in Mass. I love it here but i also love the south. But i have a hard time with new places and things. But i do think if i could i would move to Ms. Oh and if you visit mass if you are tough you won't catch hyperthermia and if u have never been somewhere you should not knock it til u try it. 

Brandi Feddersen

i wouldn't raise my dog in iowa or misouri they suc

nonmember avatar Erin

I was born and raised in New Jersey moved to Pa which I hated and now live in Ca since 1997 I Live it here especially are Beautiful Weather and I am raising a 5 year old daughter here in CA which the school that she goes to now us not a CA Distinguished school but in August she will be going too one but still not satisfied bc it's not the best school! Growing up I Loved NJ but not sure if I could go back and live there now but hearing this makes a difference and hearing CA #30 why??? Good job NJ:)! Great Memories

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