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ND Ranks in Top Ten for Child Well-Being

North Dakota ranks 9th in the nation for child well-being, according to new research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (Tim Evanson/Flickr)
North Dakota ranks 9th in the nation for child well-being, according to new research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (Tim Evanson/Flickr)
June 13, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota is making itself a great place for children to live, according to a report released today.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book assesses states on key indicators of how children and families are faring, and this year ranks North Dakota ninth overall. In the category of families' economic security, the state ranks first.

Karen Olson, program director at Kids Count North Dakota, says that's a good sign for kids.

"The past few years have brought some positive developments for the state's children and families," she says. "The state's economic growth has boosted our economic well-being of children, reducing child poverty to 12 percent. Most children live with married, educated and working parents. So, it's all very good news."

While Olson commends the state for reducing child poverty, she notes that 20,000 North Dakota children still live in poverty.

In other areas, the report says the state can improve. It ranks North Dakota 25th in education, with the third-lowest rate of preschool enrollment in the country.

The state ranks 27th in terms of health, and is one of only two states where the rate of uninsured children has increased since 2010. It's now at eight percent.

Olson also notes a disturbing trend in teen death rates.

"The child and the teen death rate in North Dakota is slightly higher than the national average, and about one in four of these deaths is the result of suicide," she adds. "And alarmingly, North Dakota teens are three times more likely to commit suicide than are teens nationally."

Olson hopes lawmakers will use the data to support programs that help families, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

The Casey Foundation's Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy, agrees, saying because of these programs, fewer children overall live in poverty, more parents have jobs and more families are able to bear the cost of housing.

"It's a little bit easier for the average American family to make ends meet," Speer says. "Certainly doesn't mean that every family is feeling that right now; we have to maintain the things that we've put in place."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND