Jun 11, 2024 - News

Report: Arkansas ranks low on child well-being

Illustration of a child sitting next to toy blocks arranged in a downward sloping bar chart

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Arkansas ranked No. 45 in the country for child well-being in a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation out yesterday — down from 43rd the past two years.

Why it matters: "So many of our children are living in poverty. Too many are dying young or giving birth before adulthood," said Keesa Smith, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, in a statement of response to the report.

How it works: The report takes into account four categories: economic well-being; education; health; and family and community.

  • Each category looks into four factors — like obesity and health insurance coverage under health, for example, or the birth rate for teens and percent of kids living in single-parent households under family and community.

The big picture: Arkansas ranked 46th in economic well-being and in family/community, 47th in health and 36th in education.

Stunning stats: Arkansas had a rate of 44 deaths per 100,000 children and teens, almost 50% higher than the national rate of 30 per 100,000.

  • 22% of kids in Arkansas live in poverty, compared to 16% nationwide.
  • The rate of teen births is 25 for every 1,000 females ages 15-19, compared to 14 per 1,000 in the U.S.

What they're saying: "Arkansas' reading and math proficiencies have been of concern for many years at Arkansas Advocates," Smith said. "They are a symptom of our state's overall poverty and underinvestment in our public schools."

  • "All of these factors taken together may also predict a future workforce that's less able to help sustain Arkansas' key industries like health care and education."

Yes, but: Arkansas fares better than the national average on three of the 16 factors.

  • 12% of high schoolers are not graduating on time compared to 14% nationally. Likewise, 10% of kids live in a home where the head of household does not have a high school diploma, slightly under the national rate of 11%.
  • 25% of children in Arkansas live in households that are burdened with a high housing cost, compared to 30% nationally.

Go deeper: Explore the data


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