Study ranks best, worst states for child well-being: Massachusetts tops list, New Mexico trails

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A report released Monday ranks overall children’s well-being by state, accounting for economic, educational, health and community factors.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a children’s advocacy group, based its rankings on data from 2016 to 2020 – the latest available – capturing the impact of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state rankings, which the nonprofit has released annually for more than three decades, remain much the same in recent years.

“This is largely because of the investments that states make in programs related to children,” Leslie Boissiere, a vice president at the foundation, told USA TODAY.

“How well-funded the education system is, whether or not [they have] programs such as Medicaid expansion, which provides access to health care for low-income families ... what percentage of children are living in poverty and whether there are programs in place to address that," Boissiere said. "Generally, those are the things that determine where a state ranking is going.”

On top of its findings, this year’s study provides policy recommendations for federal and state governments to improve child well-being, including programs like the 2021 Child Tax Credit.

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The Annie E. Casey Foundation has ranked states based on child well-being for the past 33 years.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has ranked states based on child well-being for the past 33 years.

“The more resources we give to families to provide for their children to take care of their basic needs, like housing, food and health care, the more likely those kids are to fare well,” Boissiere said.

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The top 10 states for overall child well-being 

The top state, Massachusetts, ranked high in all four areas measured by the foundation. It ranked first in child health, second in child education, 10th in family and community and 15th in economic well-being.

1. Massachusetts

2. New Hampshire

3. Minnesota

4. Utah

5. Vermont

6. New Jersey

7. Connecticut

8. Nebraska

9. Iowa

10. Wisconsin

The bottom 10 states for child well-being

The worst state for overall child well-being is New Mexico, according to the report. Despite improvements, the state ranked last in education. It ranked third to last in economic well-being and 39th in health.

41. Alaska

42. West Virginia

43. Arkansas

44. Arizona

45. Texas

46. Alabama

47. Nevada

48. Mississippi

49. Louisiana

50. New Mexico

See the full list. 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Best states for child well-being include Massachusetts, New Hampshire