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 ...

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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?


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