Shocker: La. among worst states to raise a child

by Heather Miller

A first of its kind report from the Foundation for Child Development ranks Louisiana as having the third worst overall child well-being index.

A new report from a national philanthropy organization for child well-being ranks Louisiana as the third worst state in which to raise a child.

As first reported by The Baton Rouge Business Report, Investing in Public Programs Matters: How State Policies Impact Children's Lives, paints Louisiana as ahead of only Mississippi and New Mexico for children's quality of life. The states with the highest quality of life for children are New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Utah, Connecticut and Minnesota.

"Because less than 10 percent of the federal budget is invested in children's programs, state spending has a large impact on children's well-being," says Ruby Takanishi, President of FCD. "With this new measure, we can see proof of the direct impact of state policies: When states invest in children, children do better. Although states are currently revenue-starved, this is exactly the wrong time to reduce taxes. The revenues generated by taxes should be used to invest more in the education and health of our children. Policymakers must recognize that the cost of shortchanging children today is too high a price to pay in the future."

According to a press release from the FCD, key findings of the report, which are based on seven study domains, include:

-States with higher tax rates were found to have higher child well-being values.

-Greater investments in government programs are strongly related to better quality-of-life for children in a state. Specifically, the amount of per pupil spending on education, the limits of Medicaid child eligibility thresholds and the levels of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits show substantial correlations with child well-being.
-Not only did overall child well-being values range tremendously from state to state, but great variation was also found in specific indicators such as the child poverty rate (three times higher in Mississippi than in Vermont, for example) and the rate of children without health insurance (five times higher in Texas than in Massachusetts).

Read the full report here.