Iowa fell a few notches from last year in the latest “Kids Count” survey but is still ranked among the best states in the nation for the wellbeing of its children. Iowa ranks number-eight on the new survey, down from fourth last year. Kids Count spokesman Bill O’Hare says the rankings are based on ten main criteria. O’Hare says one place where Iowa is strongest is in the child poverty rate with the fifth lowest in the country. Iowa’s child poverty rate is low and falling, the opposite of the national rate, which is climbing. Still, O’Hare says Iowa slipped in the overall rankings due to a few key categories, including in the percentage of low birthweight babies and in the percentage of children whose parents lack full-time work. He says another area in which Iowa’s situtation got worse while the rest of the country got better is in the high school dropout rate. O’Hare says Iowa’s dropout rate rose 40-percent between 2000 and 2003, which is still relatively good compared to other states but was the third-largest increase nationwide. He says Iowa leaders still have many reasons to be proud about the state’s ranking. O’Hare says Iowa did very well in the teen death rate category (deaths of teens between 15 and 19) with the third-largest decrease in the nation, falling 26-percent since 2000. Iowa also had a good showing in the percentage of kids with health insurance. Ninety-four-percent of Iowa children were insured, the third-highest rate in the U-S. Overall, New Hampshire ranked number-one this year while Mississippi came in 50th. To see the full survey, surf to “www.kidscount.org”.
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