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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

An annual report that analyzes the overall well-being of children ranked Arkansas No. 39 in the country, a slight improvement from No. 40 last year ... but not by much.

What's happening: The report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks the status of children in four main categories — economic well-being; education; health; and family and community. Each category has four subcategories for a total of 16 indicators.

Of note: The data is from 2019, meaning it does not take into account the pandemic's toll.

Why it matters: While life has largely improved for Arkansas' children in the past decade, the state still trails the rest of the country on key indicators. And Black and Hispanic children are worse off than white children.

The big picture: All indicators of economic well-being and family and community improved since 2010, but still don't paint a flattering picture. The state ranks 34 in economic well-being and 42 in family and community.

  • Three of the four health indicators worsened, including the child/teen obesity and death rates.

By the numbers:

  • 22% of children in Arkansas lived in poverty in 2019, compared to 28% in 2010. The national average is 17%.
  • 39% of Black children and 27% of Hispanic children live in poverty, compared to 16% of white children.
  • Arkansas had 30 births per 1,000 teen girls in 2019, nearly double the national average of 17 per 1,000. It's an improvement from 52 per 1,000 in 2010.
  • 69% of Arkansas fourth-graders were not proficient in reading in 2019, compared to 71% in 2010. The national average is 66%.

Yes, but: The state ranks slightly better than the national average on three of the 16 indicators, For example:

  • 12% of Arkansas high school students didn't graduate on time, compared to 14% nationwide. And that's down from 19% in 2010-11.

What they're saying:

"Poverty has a negative impact on [kids'] health, their brain development, their school performance, future earning potential and job prospects and as a state, it does weaken our future workforce and economy. We want all kids to thrive and succeed and our communities to thrive, but we've got to make some strategic policy decisions now for that to happen."
Rich Huddleston, executive director at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, in a Zoom call with reporters

Go deeper: Read the report here.

Go deeper

Sep 22, 2021 - Health

Minority-serving institutions to help create pipeline for more diverse public health workforce

President Joe Biden speaks while meeting with Latino community leaders at the White House in early August. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ten minority-serving higher-ed institutions will be awarded about $75 million to recruit and teach Black, Latino, Native American, AAPI and other students of color in public health professions to foster better representation in tackling future public health emergencies, the Biden administration will announce Wednesday.

Why it matters: Outdated technology infrastructure and messy data collection during the pandemic fueled misinformation and prevented real-time action for hardest-hit and highest-risk communities.

NWACC launches program to address a truck driver shortage

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A truck driver shortage is spurring the flagship community college of Northwest Arkansas to offer programs designed to get people behind big wheels.

What's happening: A nearly $289,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education will help launch commercial driver's license (CDL) programs at NorthWest Arkansas Community College.

"An embarrassment": Biden condemns Border Patrol for using horses to deter Haitian migrants

President Biden speaking from the White House on Sept. 24. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Friday condemned Border Patrol officers for using horses to deter Haitian immigrants from an encampment under the international bridge earlier this week but took responsibility for the actions and said an investigation is underway.

Why it matters: Photos of patrol officers charging their horses at immigrants prompted criticism of the Biden administration's handling of the crisis at the border.