The 5 Worst States To Spend Your Childhood

The nonprofit health care policy group Kaiser Health released new state-level data on Medicaid and food-stamp enrollment and the numbers help paint a bleak picture for child poverty in this country. The numbers are bad all around but for these five states, they are especially troubling.

1. Mississippi

In Mississippi, 32 percent of kids live in poverty. That’s approximately 232,628 children with over 105,000 of those children living in extreme poverty. For those extremely poor children, their families receive on average $170 in cash assistance for a family of three. And the poverty takes its toll. In Mississippi a child is neglected or abused every 1 hour, according to information from the Children’s Defense Fund. One child or teenager is killed by gunfire a week. The state is absolute first in infant mortality rates.

2. New Mexico

New Mexico is right behind Mississippi in states with deep, troubling entrenched child poverty. Currently about 31 percent of children in New Mexico grow up poor, or about 153,558 children. Of those, 66,342 children live in extreme poverty. A family of three receives a more generous $447 a month in cash assistance. Of those eligible, approximately 66 percent receive food assistance as well.

Like Mississippi, the strains of poverty come with significant social costs as well. Abuse and juvenile delinquency rates run high with graduation rates at only 64 percent and over 12,000 teenagers dropping out all together as of January 26, 2012.

3. Louisiana

Louisiana ranks third in our ranking of states worst for child poverty. 29 percent of children in the state will grow up poor. Of the 1,114,759 children in the state approximately 299,779 live in poverty and an astonishing 134,938 live in extreme poverty. Louisiana ranks 48th among states in infant mortality rates. Of the state’s total Medicaid expenditures, almost 90 percent go to providing health care services for the state’s poor children.

Graduation rates are similarly problematic, as are the number of juvenile arrests. Perhaps most tellingly, the state spends as much on its prisoners as it does on its public school students with ratio costs of spending per prisoner to public school student at 1.17.

4. Alabama

Alabama ranks fourth, though really, there are a cluster of states that follow quickly behind, so this is almost a meaningless distinction. In Alabama that means approximately 274,906 kids growing up poor and 125,187 growing up extremely poor. And even though the state has over 80,000 children without health insurance, the state opted out of expanding coverage for poor kids in the state via Obamacare.

5. Most of the rest of the south

Coming in at number 5 is a handful of states that share approximately the same levels of child poverty. With 28 percent of the state’s children growing up poor, Alabama ranks just ahead of Arkansas, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, West Virginia and North Carolina all with approximately 27-25 percent of their children growing up in poverty. These numbers are nothing short of tragic. And they are the backdrop to a manufactured budget crisis that will likely result in already scant resources being sacrificed to America’s corporate class.


Related Stories:

Food Sovereignty the Real Prize

Food Stamps Save America from Hunger

Food Justice Is Racial Justice


Photo from Ted Van Pelt via flickr.

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Samantha D.
Samantha D.2 years ago

Only if we all come together..lets kokua ( Kokua is a Hawaiian word, that translates as "extending loving, sacrificial help to others for their benefit, not for personal gain...")and think about the keikis (children) first and as the adults or as the grownups/role models provide those stepping stones so that the children can build their own solid foundation into their life. I mean why are we all suffering? These kids are here for good reasons and the only ones who don't consider their purpose are selfish and too preoccupied with their material possessions and greed......

Lauren Berrizbeitia

This is what our priority ought to be in this country (in my mind) - if children are living in poverty chances are their parents are, too!

Jody B.
Jody B.2 years ago

Sometimes the greed in Americans makes me SICK!

Jane H.
Jane H.2 years ago

poverty and ignorance go hand in hand, sadly

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

I am in the south.. lots of racism and homophobia

Terry V.
Terry V.2 years ago


Tammy Baxter
Tammy B.2 years ago

thanks for sharing

Cyan Dickirs
Cyan Dickirs2 years ago

Robert V. The ONLY place that alleged bill for castration of nudists is reported is by YOU, here. Castration has been proposed for child molesters, but only done chemically so far and very rarely, and only involves removal of the testes, usually because of cancer. Mega churches are without exception, very liberal and would never propose or condone anything like that. Some individuals may-legislators submit bills that they know have no chance of every seeing the light of hearings, some more bizarre than your unsubstantiated allegation, , but I doubt this ever happened except in your warped, perverted mind and if it did, prove it. Transgender operations do involve what you wrote sans the religious aspersions, and a Massachusetts court ordered it for an inmate, but never castration for nudity...not if it has never been endorsed/enforced for serial rapists and child molestors. PROVE IT!!

Valerie A.
Valerie A.2 years ago


LMj Sunshine

Thank you for the awareness this article brings.