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Arizona again near bottom in US for childhood well-being

PHOENIX — For the second year in a row, Arizona has ranked near the bottom on a children’s well-being ranking.

Arizona was ranked 46th in the nation for conditions for children by the Annie. E. Casey Foundation. The group said Arizona’s ranking suffered in two areas: poverty and lack of preschool education.

Dana Wolfe Naimark with the Children’s Action Alliance said the struggles for impoverished children — up 42 percent in Arizona since the economic collapse of 2008 — go beyond affording food and shelter.

“It can really mean a lack of opportunities for health care, a very unstable neighborhood, parents who are juggling two, three, four jobs, parents who are unable to help with homework,” she said.

Naimark said a lack of preschool education is a major setback for Arizona kids.

“We know that those kids are missing out on a real opportunity to learn social skills, to learn what it means to be in a classroom,” she said.

Despite Arizona’s low ranking, the state did improve in 11 of 16 categories, including a drop in drug and alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy.

KTAR’s Martha Maurer contributed to this report.