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Minnesota, N.D. ranked high for child health

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

FARGO - Minnesota ranks fifth and North Dakota sixth in the U.S. in the latest rankings of child health and well-being, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

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It's an increase of four spots in the national rankings for North Dakota, which was 10th among the states in 2011.

Meanwhile, Minnesota's ranking this year, while high, is the state's lowest ranking in a decade from the KIDS COUNT Data Book. In 2011, the state was ranked second in the nation. The state was ranked first in 2007.

This year, New Hampshire led the country in child health and well-being, followed by Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Jersey, according to the Data Book.

At the bottom of the rankings was Mississippi. New Mexico was 49th, Nevada 48th, Louisiana 47th, Arizona 46th and Alabama 45th.

North Dakota's economy proved to be a huge boost.

• North Dakota ranks first for the lowest percentage of children living in families where no parent has a full-time job, year-round employment and for the lowest percentage of children living in households paying more than 30 percent of income on housing. The state has the third-lowest percentage of teens not in school and not working.

• North Dakota is fourth in the nation for family and community health. The state has the lowest percentage of families where the head of the household does not have a high school diploma, and the second-lowest percentage of children living in single-parent families. It is 10th lowest for teen birth rates.

• North Dakota is ranked 16th in education: Two-thirds of 3- and 4-year-olds do not attend a nursery school or preschool, ranking the state 48th in the nation. Nearly two-thirds of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading, ranking the state 10th.

On the other hand, while 13 percent of North Dakota high school students do not graduate in four years, that's third-best in the U.S.

• For child health, North Dakota is 27th in the nation. The state has the 25th highest rate of teens who use alcohol and drugs, and the 17th highest rate of uninsured children.

Minnesota's overall rankings were more even.

Minnesota was ranked fifth overall in family and community health, and seventh in economic well-being, education and health, the Data Book said.

• Minnesota took a beating in the recession, and it shows in the rankings. The state is 18th in percent of children in homes where more than 30 percent of income is spent on housing. It is also 10th for percentage of children in poverty, as well as 10th in percentage of children in families where no parent has full-time employment.

• Among family and community health indicators, Minnesota was sixth nationally in percentage of children in families where the head of the household lacks a high school diploma, in the percentage of children in single-parent families and in the teen birth rate.

• In education, Minnesota was 27th in the nation for percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds not in preschool, and 15th in the nation for percentage of fourth-graders not proficient in reading. It was second in the U.S. for the percentage of eighth-graders proficient in math, and third in on-time high school graduation.

• In child health, Minnesota was 27th in the percentage of kids without health insurance, and 25th for the percentage of teens who abused alcohol or drugs in the past year. It was seventh for percentage of low-birth weight babies.

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