What does California have in common with the poorest states in the nation, located in the Southeast, Southwest and Appalachia?
Together, they are the 17 lowest-ranked states when it comes to taking care of kids, according to a report (pdf) by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. California ranked 41st out of 50 states in child well-being.
The state’s children are a little bit better educated than last year but also a little bit less healthy, leaving them with the same crummy overall ranking two years in a row.
The “Kids Count Data Book” looked at 16 indicators in four distinct areas, and concluded that California children are poor, uneducated, lacking in family and community, and unhealthy. Their health is almost average, but not quite. The rest is pretty bad.
But California is not a conventionally poor state, so if children are not faring well, where did the money go?
California was 46th in “economic well-being,” largely on the basis of this: “California had the highest percentage of children—a startling 52 percent—living in households that spent more than 30 percent of income for housing.” The lowest was North Dakota at 21%. Other economic criteria included percentage of children in poverty, percentage of children whose parents lacked secure employment and percentage of teens not in school and not working.
California ranked 42nd in “family and community,” thanks in part to a last-place ranking for having the highest rate (25%) of children living without a high-school-educated head of household. The state was 39th in “education” and 29th in “health.”
Nationally, the overall rankings reflect a regional pattern of well-being. All of the states in the Northeast are in the Top 15, led by New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. Minnesota breaks in at No. 4 before New Jersey lands at 5. The Midwest is mostly in the middle. New Mexico is last.