After 24 Years, Mississippi No Longer Worst State for Kids

Good news for Mississippi!

For the first time in the 24 years that the Annie E. Casey Foundation has been compiling state-by-state statistics on the well-being of children and families in its Kids Count Index, Mississippi ranked #49, not #50, overall. New Mexico took over the bottom spot.

In January 2013, we reported on new state-level data on Medicaid and food-stamp enrollment released by Kaiser Health, and the numbers painted a bleak picture for child poverty in this country.

Kids Count, released this week, brings more disturbing news: although there have been some gains in education and health nationally, there have been serious setbacks when it comes to the economic well-being of children. In the United States overall, a shocking 23 percent of children live in poverty, but in the bottom five states, the numbers are even worse:

50. New Mexico

In New Mexico, that number rises to 31 percent. That means that 157,00 children, out of a total of around 506,450, live in extreme poverty. One reason is that 37 percent of kids in the state have parents who lack secure employment. Tragically, 79 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading, which is actually an improvement by one percent over the 2005 number. It seems that New Mexico has taken over from Mississippi as the worst state in the country for kids to live when it comes to a range of issues.

49. Mississippi

Mississippi may no longer be the worst state to be a kid, but the numbers are still troubling. Its 32 percent of children living in poverty has worsened from 2005, when it was 31 percent, and is actually higher than New Mexico’s rate. The state makes up for this with improvements in education and health: only 8 percent of kids are without health insurance, and half of the state’s eligible students attend preschool.

48. Nevada

This year’s report ranks the state of Nevada at #48, the third worst state for child well-being. This is a huge downturn from 2011, when the state ranked #26. In the education category, Nevada ranked last. 75 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading, and 42 percent of high school students in Nevada fail to graduate on time. Nevada ranked #47 in the country in the health category.

47. Arizona

Coming in at fourth worst is Arizona, which has slipped from #46 to #47. Here, 27 percent of kids live in poverty; that’s 435,000 children out of approximately 1.6 million total. Even more depressing, 67 percent of children in the state do not attend preschool, which puts the state next-to-last in that category for the second straight year, and 74 percent of the state’s fourth graders are not proficient in reading.

46. Louisiana

Louisiana ranks #46, or fifth worst in the nation for overall child well-being, a slight improvement from last year’s #47. The percentage of fourth-grade students scoring below proficient in reading decreased by four percent, but it is still at 77 percent, while 78 percent of eighth graders were labeled “not proficient in math. The state also exceeded the national child poverty rate; 29 percent, or 317,000 children live in poverty in Louisiana.

These numbers, while depressing, are not surprising. In April 2013, a UNICEF survey of 29 countries ranked the U.S #26 in child well-being, just above Lithuania, Latvia and Romania (three of the poorest countries in the survey). On child poverty, the U.S. did even worse, coming in at #28.

But let’s get back to Mississippi.

“While we are not where we need to be, the fact that our child and teen death rate, along with some decrease in the percentage of children without health insurance has been helpful, Mississippi Kids Count Director Linda Southward told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

Keep moving up, Mississippi, one small step at a time.

Photo Credit: thinkstock


Bravo j.
Past Member 1 years ago

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Danuta Watola
Danuta W2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

steven brockwell
steven brockwell4 years ago

i think more goes to administration that what is spent on feeding the poor.
billions are spent on helping other country's only the problems just get worse.
something is very wrong in the system.

Vicky P.
Vicky P4 years ago

depressing :/ All in the south, no?

Patricia H.
Patricia H.4 years ago

I agree with Lyn B.

John S.
Past Member 4 years ago

Steven B, you do know how the calculate the poverty level right? Since most countries do not have an "official" poverty measure, so some fool defined the poor as those with disposable income (adjusted for household size) less than 50% of the national median. This would explain why the United States, on child poverty, is ranked between Bulgaria and Romania, though Americans are on average six times richer than Bulgarians and Romanians.

UNICEF is using its own “poverty line” here; the more typical international definition is a family that lives on less than $1.25 or $2 per day. Almost no Americans qualify for this definition. Internally, the United States defines the poverty line as a family living on less than about $22,000 per year, which includes about 15 percent of Americans.

So I think you if you are living in poverty, you would rather it be is the USA.

Steven Brewer
Steven Brewer4 years ago

Jim Crow... the Rethuglicans finally dragging you back in play thanks to the 5 activist Supremes... You must have missed the memo from the Koch's boy in MI, Rick Snydely, about appointing Orr as Detroit overseer so all the cities assets can be sold to Rick's contributors in no bid auctions... How about Miami's Liberty City or Overtown or the Pork & Beans section in that Republican controlled city... Why don't you look up the stats for every inner city in every city whether controlled by Rethuglicans or Democrats , you would get the same stats. Bush's policy of "Every Poor Child Left Behind" drained the resources from the inner city school districts and gave them over to the well to do suburban school districts. When you cut the funds going back to the states, you cut funds needed by every school district and unless they raise taxes they have to cut teaching positions and increase class sizes dramatically (I guess the uneducated like yourself want the dumbing down of America to get up to speed...) guess you missed the primary debates where the audience applauded letting someone die because they had no insurance, or letting pregnant women die rather than allowing a medically necessary abortion. Roe V Wade is part our Constitution along with voting rights and so many other rights y’all ignore... I know this may be hard to understand with your lack of cranial material but the post was about MS and comparing cherry-picked inner cities to a state is inane...

Jim Coke
Jim Coke4 years ago

Steven B.: You seem to be a man of the world, so I'm wondering whether you are familiar with the conditions that exist in many urban inner cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Newark, South Central LA, etc. Do you have some stats regarding the aforementioned municipalities, which are totally controlled by left-wing politicians? Probably not, or if you do you choose not to present them. And of course it wouldn't serve your purpose since you obviously despise conservatives and would say anything to discredit them. I guess the Tea Partiers are like the Taliban and other radical Islamists, in that they torture and/or behead those who disagree with them, sometimes commit mass murder and, of course, often stone to death women who dare to show their faces in public. I've really missed something, since all I remember hearing from the Tea Party is their desire for freedom from government tyranny and adherence to the U. S. Constitution. I also remember that during the large mass rallies the TP held there wasn't a single act of violence of any kind, nor even any threats of violence (unlike the Occupy Wall Street movement). But I must be wrong since you seem to think the Tea Party is responsible not only for the poor educational situation in Mississippi, etc., but for the bloody barbarism you seem to imply they commit regularly.

Harley Williams
Harley W4 years ago

I have worked in education for the last 20 years. I have seen wave after wave of new ideas to cure the problems with easy fast solutions. The new wave is that all children need is a computer. Computers do not help children think or learn. They just make life easier to find information. Schools are asked by the Government to make children want to learn. Then we pass all of them because it is bad for them to fail. We take little to no time to make the children read. The Book Focus by Mike Schmoker makes the point how can children be taught to read if they do not have time to read? I have seen hard working teachers who try their best to teach a whole bunch of topics with many gimmicks which if they do not use they can get fired. I also see teachers who do as little as possible with gimmicks so they do not have to actually work. I have seen parents who want to know why their children still do not get A when they do not do their work.

Yes the Government, School Administrators have their share of the blame. But where are parents. My single mother told me I was going to get good grades and pass or hell would rain down on me. Ben Carson speaks of his illiterate mother making them read. Everyone passes the buck.

A good parent can overcome a mediocre school. But a good school cannot replace a good parent.

Lyn B.
Lyn B4 years ago

I am truly ashamed of my country.