Iowa rose several notches in this year’s “Kids Count” report which ranks all the states based on ten factors of a child’s well-being, including children living in poverty, teen birth rates and low birth weight babies. Laura Beavers, co-author of the report by the Annie Casey Foundation, says Iowa ranks number-five overall this year, up from eighth last year.
Beavers says Iowa ranks best in the U.S. in terms of the percent of teens who are high school dropouts. Iowa reports only three-percent of teens between 16 and 19 are dropouts, compared to eight-percent nationwide. She says Iowa ranked among the top states in several categories, like the percent of children in single-parent families (24-percent in Iowa versus 31-percent nationally) and in the percent of children living in poverty (12-percent in Iowa, 18-percent nationally).
She says Iowa had the second-lowest percent of children living in families where no parent had full-time, year-round employment, which is “very good economically-speaking for children in Iowa.” This is the 17th year for the Kids Count report and Beavers says Iowa’s seen consistent improvement in recent years in several categories. Beavers says Iowa had a very low percentage — third-best in the nation — on the percent of teens not attending school and not working, what’s called the idle teen measure, indexing the “disconnected youth.”
In Iowa, about five-percent of teens between 16 and 19 fall into the category, or about half the national rate of nine-percent. While Iowa did very well in the ten categories, Beavers says there was one area where the state could stand some improvement.
Iowa’s worst showing was in the category of child death rates. Beavers says the percentage of deaths for children between the ages of one and 14 had Iowa at number-26 in the nation, which is right around the national average of about 21-deaths per 100-thousand children. New Hampshire ranked number-one overall. To see the full report, surf to “www.kidscount.org”.