Mid-South States Rank as Poor Places for Kids

Mid-South States Rank as Poor Places for Kids

The Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks states in four areas: education, health, family and economic well being. Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas are all in the country's bottom ten.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - It's tough to be a kid in the Mid-South. A new report ranks Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi as some of the worst states in the country for children when it comes to health and education.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks states in four areas: education, health, family and economic well being.

Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas are all in the country's bottom ten.

"I think you can look at all these states and they consistently rank in bottom ten states," say Leonard McKinnon.

When compared to all 50 states, the Mid-South doesn't measure up well when it comes to child well-being.

Tennessee ranks 39th, Arkansas 40th and Mississippi almost last at 49th.

"I would expect it to be a lot higher actually," says student Audrey Pisahl.

"I'm not surprised by that," says McKinnon.

The rankings measure state's youngest kids to high schoolers, looking at everything from infant mortality rates to graduation rates.

While the Mid-South is down on the list, there are positive developments.

Arkansas went from 42nd to 40th, making strides in childhood health.

The Kids Count survey has been conducted the last 24 years. It's the first time Mississippi hasn't ranked last.

Tennessee dropped three spots in its ranking, but fewer teens are getting pregnant and more high schoolers are graduating on time.

The state elementary students are still struggling. Three out of four fourth graders can't read at the proper level.

"We were just very lucky to get her in on a scholarship in a private school," says Audrey's mother, Bonnie Listengart. "She's a reader. She usually always does a summer reading program."

"She loves to read," says mom Ramerrian Dorsey about her eight year old daughter Samira. "She reads every day, all night, all day. I try to keep her in the books. They'll be more interested if parents are interested in showing them that's the way to go and it's good for them."

New Hampshire ranks first in the survey. New Mexico is last.
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