Md., Va. receive high marks in humanitarian group’s ranking of best, worst places for kids in US

Carroll County, Maryland, is the fifth-best location in the nation for children, according to new data from the humanitarian organization Save The Children, which evaluated counties for the first time this year.

Maryland is also in the top 10 for states.

Save the Children’s 2020 Childhood Report examines how well states and counties protect and provide for children. The highest ranking state is New Jersey.

The most challenging state for children is Louisiana — based on hunger, teenage pregnancy, on-time graduations from high school and deaths from poor health, homicide or suicide.

Two-thousand six-hundred U.S. counties provided enough data to be evaluated in all four of the above indicators; all 24 Maryland counties were included.

In Virginia, some counties were not ranked because they do not record the deaths of children younger than 10 years old.

“The research shows where there’s great disparity in states, but also pockets of promise,” said Sara Neumann Luciano, Save the Children’s communications director for U.S. Programs and Advocacy.

“We’re hoping that citizens, and government and local officials, will look at this data and better invest in communities where we’re failing our children and leaving them behind — perhaps because of the color of their skin, perhaps because of childhood poverty rates or unemployment rates in their local communities,” Luciano said.

Maryland is ranked 10th among states.

  • It moved up nine spots since the 2018 Childhood Report, likely due to reductions in infant mortality and child homicide and suicide.
  • Maryland’s Childhood Equity gap is large — measured at 5.5 — meaning children are nearly 5 1/2 times as likely to have their childhoods cut short in the bottom ranked county — Baltimore City — as compared to the top ranked county — Carroll County.
  • Maryland does well when it comes to child food insecurity — ranking ninth in the nation for keeping kids fed with a statewide child food insecurity rate of 15.2%.

Here’s how some Maryland counties ranked:

  • Maryland is home to the fifth-best performing county in the nation: Carroll County.
  • Maryland’s best-performing county for kids is Carroll County.
  • Maryland’s worst-performing county for kids is Baltimore City.
  • In nationwide rankings, Calvert County is No. 47 and Queen Anne’s No. 48.

Virginia is ranked 11th among states.

  • Virginia fell three spots since the 2018 Childhood Report, likely because of significant increases in child homicide and suicide.
  • The Childhood Equity Gap in Virginia is large — measured at 5.5 — meaning children are nearly 5 1/2 times as likely to have their childhoods cut short in the bottom ranked county of Petersburg City compared to the top ranked county, York.
  • Virginia’s best-performing indicator is child food insecurity — Virginia is fifth-best in the nation at keeping kids fed, with a statewide child food insecurity rate of 13.2%.

Here’s how some Virginia counties ranked:

  • Virginia is home to the second-best performing county in the nation: York County.
  • Nine Virginia counties made the list of top 50, including Loudon (No. 6), Hanover (No. 22), Falls Church City (No. 26), Botetourt (No. 27), Fauquier (No. 28), Albemarle (No. 44).
  • Virginia’s best-performing county for kids is York County.
  • Virginia’s worst-performing county for kids is Petersburg City.

D.C. is considered a county in the rankings.

  • It ranked 2,160 out of 2,617 counties; in the bottom 25% of counties nationwide.
  • D.C.’s child poverty rate is 24.5% — one in four kids is growing up poor.
  • 21.1% child hunger — one in five kids is going hungry.
  • 27.6% high school dropouts — nearly a third of D.C. kids aren’t graduating on time.
  • And, concerning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, D.C.’s COVID -19 vulnerability is 0.60 out of 1.

“This data really gives us a look into where we can be doing better for our nation’s children and especially across the DMV,” Luciano said.

Visit Save the Children’s website for more information and to see the interactive map and county comparison tool.

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