There’s good news for the children of Mississippi; their state is no longer the worst place to be a kid. That’s because a new set of annual rankings on children’s welfare says New Mexico has dethroned Mississippi’s perennial hold on the bottom ranking of the Kids Count list.
For the past 24 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has used a series of 16 indicators to rank the well-being of children in all 50 U.S. states. This year’s edition is the first to not place Mississippi at 50 out of 50 on the list, citing gains in health and education. However, Mississippi is still No. 49 on the list.
The foundation also noted that a third of Mississippi’s children continue to live in poverty. By comparison, 13 percent of New Hampshire’s children are listed as living at or below the poverty level.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts finished at the top of the children’s well-being list.
“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.
There also appears to be an overall improving trend in the South. Louisiana, which was 46th on the list, is the only other Southern state to finish in the bottom five. However, the Southwest has fared less well—three of the bottom-five states are New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada.