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Report ranks Iowa 9th in the nation for child well-being

A new report ranked Iowa ninth in the nation for child well-being
Ramin Talebi
A new report ranked Iowa ninth in the nation for child well-being

A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation has ranked Iowa ninth in the nation for child well-being.

The non-profit's annual Kids Count report ranks states on twelve factors divided into four categories.

Iowa ranked fifth for economic well-being, 11th for education, 17th for health and 11th for family and community.

But Iowa’s high ranking can be misleading, said Anne Discher, the executive director of Common Good Iowa, which partners with the foundation.

For example, Discher said in the education category, Iowa ranks first in the nation for high school kids graduating on time, but falls behind in other areas.

"We're 21st on the share of young children attending preschool. We're ranked 22nd on the share of fourth graders not reading proficiently, and we're ranked 25th on the share of eighth graders not proficient in math — so really middle of the pack," she said.

In the health category, Discher said Iowa did well in some areas like children who have health insurance and rate of births with low birth weights, where it was ranked fourth and sixth respectably.

“On others, we ranked 25th on child and teen death rate, and 33rd on the percentage of kids who are overweight or obese," she said.

Discher called on state lawmakers to read all rankings so they know in what areas Iowa kids need more attention and funding.

Iowa has a budget surplus, but Republicans have said they're focused on more tax cuts, which concerns Discher, who said Iowa has not funded schools to keep up with rates of inflation.

"I just think we are embarking on a future where we're going to face terrible pressure to slash services for kids, including education, including health, including mental health," she said.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter