Wyoming Ranked 12th Best State For Kids, But Struggles On Child Health

Jun 21, 2016

Credit Eric Lewis via Flickr Creative Commons

Wyoming ranks 12th in the nation in child well-being, according to data released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Wyoming rose four places from last year’s report—one of the biggest improvements in the nation.

But while Wyoming ranked first for economic well-being, it came in 48th place in health in this year’s Kids Count profile, which is based on 2014 data.

Samin Dadelahi is the Chief Operating Officer at the Wyoming Community Foundation—which handles Wyoming’s Kids Count data. She said Wyoming ranking number one in economic well-being based on two-year-old data is no surprise.

“The number two state in economic well-being? North Dakota,” said Dadelahi. “Again, an oil and gas state. So, really no surprise there. But what we see on the face of things in 2016 is a very different picture. In 2014, the price of a barrel of oil was twice what it is right now. So, we know the picture is very different in our state.

Kids Count looks at 16 different metrics in its report, in four domains: economic well-being, education, health and family and community.

Wyoming ranked a bit above average in education—coming in 18th place, but its percentage of young children not in school is higher than the rest of the country.

The poor health ranking can be attributed in part to Wyoming’s high rate of child and teen deaths. There were 32 child and teens deaths per 100,000 in 2014, compared to 24 per 100,000 nationwide.

“We rank really high in child and teen deaths per 100,000,” said Dadelahi. “And that isn’t a big surprise to anybody in the state of Wyoming. We know we have one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation. We know that mental health issues are a big one in this state for us to work on.”

Also, 9.2 percent of babies born in Wyoming in 2014 were considered “low birthweight.” That’s a percentage point higher than the rest of the country—and the problem has worsened in Wyoming since 2008.

The Wyoming Health Department has said the problem is due in part to women smoking or drinking too much during pregnancy.

Wyoming ranked a bit above average in education—coming in 18th place

The report also shows that the number of teen births has dropped dramatically in Wyoming and around the country since 2008, but Wyoming still remains well above the national average.