Jun 14, 2023 - News

Arkansas ranks in bottom 10 for kids' well-being

Illustration of a children's block with a downward arrow on it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

For the second year in a row, Arkansas ranked 43rd among the 50 states for child well-being in an annual report published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

How it works: The report ranks children's quality of life in four categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. Each category has four subcategories. Health takes into account the child and teen death rate, for example.

Details: Arkansas ranks 40th in economic well-being, with 22% of children living in poverty and 30% with parents who lack secure employment.

  • Arkansas ranks 37th for education, with 81% of eighth-graders not proficient in math.
  • The Natural State is 42nd in child health, with 37% of people ages 10-17 overweight or obese, compared to 33% nationally.
  • The state's lowest ranking is 46th in the family and community category. About 38% of kids in Arkansas live in single-parent homes compared to 34% nationally.

Zoom in: Although Arkansas' teen birth rate is about half what is was a decade ago, it's still nearly double the national average, with 27 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19, Laura Kellams, Northwest Arkansas director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, pointed out last week by phone.

  • States that perform best in this category require comprehensive sex education in schools, she said. Arkansas does not require sex education in schools.

Yes, but: Arkansas fares better than the national average in a couple categories.

  • About 11% of Arkansas high school students don't graduate on time, compared to 14% nationally. About 10% of kids in the state have families where the household head lacks a high school diploma, compared to 11% nationally.

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