|The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book urges policymakers not to back away from targeted investments that help U.S. children become healthier, more likely to complete high school and better positioned to contribute to the nation's economy as adults.|
The Data Book also shows the child poverty rate in 2015 continued to drop, landing at 21%. In addition, children experienced gains in reading proficiency and a significant increase in the number of kids with health insurance.
However, the data indicate that unacceptable levels of children living in poverty and in high-poverty neighborhoods persist.
WEST VIRGINIA RANKINGS
- 45th of 50 states in education
- 42nd of 50 states in economic well being
- 43rd of 50 states in overall well being
- 36th of 50 states in health
West Virginia is ranking 43rd in the country in terms of children's well-being. Last year, West Virginia ranked 39th. The year before that, the state ranked 43rd. And in 2014, West Virginia ranked 37th.
The states that rank behind West Virginia include Alabama (44), Arkansas (45), Arizona (46), Nevada (47), Louisiana (48), New Mexico (49) and Mississippi (50).
States in the Southeast, Southwest and Appalachia where states that have the lowest levels of household income and populated the bottom of the overall rankings.
New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont were considered the top three states in terms of child well-being.
The data to judge children's well-being is gathered annually by KidsCount, which is produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
West Virginia was worse than the national average in several indicators of child well-being.
Twenty-five percent of children in West Virginia live in poverty, compared to the 21 percent national average.
The percentage of children whose parents lack secure employment was 37 percent in West Virginia, compared to the national average of 29 percent.
West Virginia has a slightly higher than average percentage of children living in single-parent families. West Virginia's rate is 38 percent. That's compared to the national average of 35 percent.
West Virginia's percentage of low-birthweight babies is 9.6 percent. The national average is 8.1 percent.
"Babies born with a low birthweight have a high probability of experiencing developmental problems and short- and long-term disabilities and are at greater risk of dying within the first year of life," according to Kids Count.
"Smoking, poor nutrition, poverty, stress, infections and violence can increase the risk of a baby being born with a low birthweight."
West Virginia's child and teen death rate is 29 per 100,000. That's a bit lower than other years of the recent past. The national average is 25 out of 100,000.
"Concentrated poverty puts whole neighborhoods, and the people living in them, at risk. High-poverty neighborhoods are much more likely than others to have high rates of crime and violence, physical and mental health issues, unemployment and other problems," according to Kids Count.