Arizona is among the bottom five U.S. states for children’s overall well-being, according to the most recent KIDS COUNT report. The state’s rank of 46 is one spot lower than last year.
In addition to its rank of 46 overall, Arizona also claimed the 43rd spot for economic well-being, the 46th spot in education, the 35th spot in health and the 46th spot in family and community.
The annual KIDS COUNT report is published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Most of the data used in this year’s report was collected in 2017.
Arizona’s highest ranking is in the health category, where it is 35th. The state improved in the number of teens who abuse drugs or alcohol, moving from six percent in 2016 to five percent in 2017. The number of child and teen deaths remained the same at 28 per 100,000. Arizona did see a slight increase in both the number of children without health insurance and the percentage of babies with a low birth-weight.
“It’s always promising to see us making strides in some areas,” said Pati Urias, communications specialist for Children’s Action Alliance in Arizona.
The state’s second-highest ranking was in economic well-being, where it saw an improvement in three of the four subcategories, moving up three spots from rank 46 to rank 43 in the past year. According to the report, 21 percent of Arizona children live in poverty and 29 percent of children live with parents who lack secure employment.
Urias said that although the Arizona economy is doing better overall, statistics like these can be misleading.
“Just because the rankings have changed doesn’t mean families are doing super well,” Urias said.
Families paying more than 30 percent of their income in housing are still at risk, she added.
Arizona dropped one spot in education, moving from 45th to 46th. The number of fourth graders not proficient in reading and the number of eighth graders not proficient in math stayed the same between 2016 and 2017 at 70 percent and 66 percent, respectively. The state did see a slight increase in the number of high school students not graduating on time, moving from 21 percent to 22 percent.
Arizona’s ranking of 46 in the category of family and community also remained steady over the past year, but saw improvements in three of four subcategories. The state saw improvement in the rate of teen births, which dropped from 24 per 1,000 in 2016 to 22 per 1,000 in 2017. The percentage of children living in high-poverty areas also dropped, from 23 percent in 2016 to 20 percent in 2017.