New report ranks Arkansas 39th among US states in factors supporting children

State News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark – The latest edition of an annual report shows Arkansas in the bottom half of the country in terms of support for children.

The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book listed the Natural State as the 39th overall state in the United States regarding child well-being, with data showing families across Arkansas are struggling.

The Data Book released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation is a 50-state report of recent household data, analyzing how families are doing between the Great Recession and COVID-19 crisis.

It takes into account 16 indicators measuring four domains: economic well-being, education, health and community context.

The Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families released a report in conjunction with the Data Book, analyzing the assessment of Arkansas.

In terms of economic well-being, the state ranked 34th. The report noted that this showed 151,000 Arkansas children living in households with income below the poverty line, and while this figure has been improving since 2010, one in five kids in the state live in poverty.

Arkansas ranked 35th in education, with the KIDS COUNT data highlighting that the state had seen a decline in early Pre-K enrollment over the last decade.

The state ranked 41st in health, with the report stating 2019 was the third straight year that there was an increase in the number of children in Arkansas without health insurance.

In the final area, family and community context, Arkansas ranked 42nd. While that may seem low, the reported noted a drop in the number of kids living in high-poverty areas and kids living in homes where the head of the household lacks a high school diploma.

Researchers said the COVID-19 pandemic was especially hard on many families, with 23 percent of Arkansas households with children facing times in 2020 when they were unsure if a rent or mortgage could be paid.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the most extraordinary crisis to hit families in decades,” Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said in a release. “Deliberate policy decisions can help them recover, and we’re already seeing the beginnings of that.”

More information on the study can be found at ARAdvocates.org.

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