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Children in Massachusetts are better off than in any other state in the nation, according to a report released Tuesday.
Massachusetts was ranked No. 1 in the overall well-being of children as measured in four categories, according to the 25th annual Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Yet despite the high overall ranking, the state cannot afford to be complacent, officials said.
Even though Bay State children lead the nation in educational achievement and are less likely to be without health insurance than in any other state, far too many still live in poverty.
"The investments we have made in our children have helped them to be better prepared to succeed than children anywhere else in America," said Noah Berger, President of MassBudget, the state Kids Count group. "Yet, far too many of our children are still being left behind."
The report ranked states in economic well-being; education; health; and family and community. Massachusetts ranked first in education; second in health; eighth in family and community; and 13th in economic well-being.
Fifteen percent of the state's children - or about 213,000 - live in poverty, according to the report. Thirty percent live in households where no parent has secure employment. In both cases, however, those percentages were better than the national rates.
A nation-leading 47 percent of Massachusetts fourth-graders are proficient readers, but Berger pointed out that more than half of children are not.
The report found that 99 percent of children in the state have access to health insurance. But health challenges remain, including the fact that Massachusetts children are slightly more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as kids everywhere.
The numbers are a direct result of state policy, top politicians said.
"Here in the commonwealth, we have made a strong commitment to the well-being of our children, and this is largely due to our emphasis on education and health care," state Senate President Therese Murray said. "This report shows that these investments have paid off and we remain national leaders in child achievement standards."
This article was originally published on July 22, 2014.
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