PHOENIX — In an ideal world, children would be given every opportunity to thrive and have a great life, no matter where they are from. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world and underprivileged children suffer everyday.
Underprivileged children in Arizona have it even worse, according to a recent report from personal finance website WalletHub. Arizona ranked No. 49 in the nation for child welfare, barely surpassing Mississippi and the District of Colombia.
In addition, the state ranked No. 50 in early foundations and economic well-being and No. 48 in education. The report compiled several different factors to come up with the overall ranking, such as number of children living in renter-occupied homes, amount of children in foster care and percentage of children living below the poverty line.
Jill Gonzalez with WalletHub said both state and local governments in Arizona need to prioritize the well-being of children in order to create a better community for underprivileged kids.
“Government works differently in a lot of these states,” she said. “Sometimes government — and that’s either on a statewide or community level — takes it upon themselves to really make sure the children really do have adequate health insurance, parental support and things like that; Other states do not. It’s looking like Arizona is one of those states that does not do that.”
Arizona is also the fifth-highest state in the nation for children living in renter-occupied homes as opposed to owner-occupied, which Gonzalez said can be troublesome for young children.
“About one percent of kids living in renter-occupied housing units instead of owner-occupied, and that really just lends itself to more of a transient lifestyle,” She said. “Not really putting down roots anywhere can be problematic, especially in childhood years.”
Gonzalez said Arizona did not rank low in every category; The state actually ranked within the top 20th percentile in maltreated children and infant mortality rates.
This is not the first time the state ranked low in a childhood well-being report. Earlier this year, Arizona ranked No. 46 in the nation for conditions for children by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, citing poverty and lack of preschool education as two main factors for the low score.
KTAR News’ Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.