These are the best and worst US states for children

By Jacqueline Howard

Published June 27, 2018

New Hampshire ranks highest and New Mexico lowest for overall child well-being in the US, according to an Annie E. Casey Foundation report.

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The report, called Kids Count, measured child well-being for all 50 states by combining 2016 data within the domains of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. Data from 2016 are the most recent available for every state.

10 best states for kids (from best to worst)

  • New Hampshire

  • Massachusetts

  • New Jersey

  • Minnesota

  • Iowa

  • Utah

  • Connecticut

  • Vermont

  • Nebraska

  • Virginia

10 worst states for kids (from worst to best)

  • New Mexico

  • Louisiana

  • Mississippi

  • Nevada

  • Alaska

  • Arizona

  • Oklahoma

  • Texas

  • Alabama

  • Arkansas

Five of the top 10 states for overall child well-being were in the Northeast, including Connecticut at seven and Vermont at eight. Appalachian states and those across the southern tier mostly populated the bottom of the rankings.

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A few rankings varied dramatically. For instance, Montana ranked 10th for family and community but 46th for health, and California ranked ninth for health but 45th for economic well-being.

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The report also showed that on nearly all index measures, black, American Indian and Latino children appeared to be disadvantaged compared with their peers, the data showed.


There were a few notable exceptions in these differences by race. For instance, black children were more likely than the national average to be in school as young children.


American Indian families were less likely to be burdened with high housing costs, and American Indian and Latino children were more likely to be born at a healthy birth weight.