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Iowa's Kids Receive Top Rankings From Annual Report

Iowa's kids have received top rankings from the annual Annie E. Casey Kids Count Data Book

Iowa has received one of the top rankings for child well-being in the state, according to the annual Kids Count Data Book released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. 

The report ranks the nation's kids in four general categories: economic well-being, education, health and family and community.

Iowa was ranked third overall and has made the top ten for each category. The report found the state's statistics have improved since 2010. 

The state scored the highest in the "economic well-being" category where it was ranked second in the country behind North Dakota and shows the rates for kids who live in poverty, live with parents who lack secure employment and live in housing with a high cost burden have significantly dropped.

But Noah Berger, the director of policy reform and advocacy at the foundation, said while Iowa has made progress, one in eight kids is still living in poverty.

"I think the important questions are: What do you do to make progress? How can you make sure that all of your young people in whatever community they grow up in, whatever their race, have the chance to succeed," Berger said.

Berger said while Iowa was also ranked high in the "education" category -- seventh in the nation -- many of the state's kids are still behind.

"In Iowa, currently, 64 percent of fourth graders are not proficient readers," Berger said. "And that’s a problem because if you can’t read by fourth grade, it’s hard to learn a lot of the other things you need to learn the rest of your school time. And that’s a problem across the country."

The only ranking that has increased is the rate of child and teen deaths. That number went from 24 to 27 deaths per 100,000 kids from 2010 to 2017.

The Kids Count Data Book has examined the demographics of the nation’s child population to push for policy reform since 1990. This year's report marks its 30th year.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter