Despite marginal improvements in child well-being since 2010, Nevada remains ranked among the worst states in a nationwide study about the topic released Monday.
Nevada ranked 47th in the nation, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count data project. When the study was first published in 1990, a time when the number of children living in Nevada was less than half what it is now, the state ranked 32nd.
“States who have really had a high population growth are the states we’re seeing doing worse,” said Aaliyah Goodie, a data analyst for the Children’s Advocacy Alliance in Nevada. “As the child population increases, we also have to continue to increase our resources. I don’t think we’re doing as much as a state as we can to support these children.”
New Hampshire fared best in the nation for child well-being, according to the study. New Mexico came in last.
‘A lot of bad news’
Nevada fell in the bottom 10 across all four major areas measured by Kids Count. It ranked 41st in economic well-being, 42nd in family and community context, 46th in health and 47th in education.
Tara Phebus, executive director of the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy, summarized the report as having “a lot of bad news” for the state. She said children who grow up poor, unhealthy and uneducated have a higher chance of suffering from chronic disease and substance abuse as adults.
Nevada could help its youngest residents by expanding access to prenatal care and early education programs, Phebus said. Kids Count estimated that about two-thirds of Nevadans ages 3 and 4 were not in school.
“I think a thing we struggle with in our state is investing in prevention, looking upstream to make early investments so we see a longer-term payoff,” Phebus said.
Goodie and Phebus agreed that there is some good news for the Silver State behind the rankings.
Between 2010 and 2017, the latest year included in the study, Nevada made improvements in 13 out of the 16 measured indicators encompassed by the four larger groupings.
The share of children without health insurance fell from 18 percent to 8 percent over the period. The share not graduating from high school on time dropped by half to 19 percent.
“While we’re still ranking low, we can continue the progress that’s been made,” Goodie said. “It can be frustrating when you don’t see the ranking go up, but you also have to consider that other states are also improving.”