Massachusetts Third in Nation for Child Well-Being, but Challenges Persist

The Kids COUNT Data Book, released on Monday, June 24th and prepared by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, highlights indicators on the well-being of young children to help further the conversation about opportunities for and the benefits of early intervention.  Massachusetts ranks third in this national ranking index.  Massachusetts is a national leader in health, according to the ranking, but has dropped in the rankings compared to other states in the last year.

Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in education, based on preschool attendance, test scores, and high school graduation rates.  Our 4th graders have the highest rate of reading proficiency in the nation, and our 8th graders have the highest rate of math proficiency.  In other areas, children in Massachusetts continue to face some significant hurdles.  For instance, while Massachusetts’s child poverty rate is relatively low compared to other states, one in six kids under five is currently living in poverty—roughly 75,000 young children.

Massachusetts has also dropped in its health ranking in large part due to teen substance use, its rank of 19 in low birth weight babies, and other states catching up to Massachusetts’ insurance rates.  These data materials also point out the continuing impacts of the recession:  housing costs are still very high in Massachusetts, families still lack secure employment, and there as an increasing concentration of poverty.

Despite these setbacks, Massachusetts is still a national leader when it comes to health.  Massachusetts and Vermont had the lowest rate of children lacking health insurance, at 2 percent, compared with a high of 16 percent in Nevada in 2011.  Massachusetts had the lowest rates of child and teen deaths, 17 deaths per 100,000 in 2010.

Read the 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

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