Massachusetts received high marks in the annual Kids Count data book this year, ranking number one in the country for overall child well-being.
Several factors led to this status, especially child health. More kids had health insurance in 2020. Obesity rates dropped slightly and child and teen death rates were also down — going from 17 per 100,000 kids to 14. Massachusetts breaks from the national trend here. Countrywide, teen deaths increased slightly between 2010 and 2020.
Despite the positive changes in physical health factors, many kids in Massachusetts reported struggling with their mental health. The state saw a 50% increase in anxiety and depression diagnoses among kids aged 3 to 17, going from 12.2% in 2016 to 18.4% in 2020. That's a sharp departure from the national average of 11.8%.
The state fares better when it comes to economic well-being. Fewer kids and their families live in poverty in Massachusetts, dropping slightly from 14% in the years 2008 to 2012 to 12% in the years 2016 to 2020, and more children live in homes with parents who have secure employment.
Kids Count officials had a harder time making assessments about education in this year's report. State-level school data is not yet widely available across the country beyond 2019. The report authors say they're anticipating worse educational outcomes in the coming years due to pandemic-related virtual learning mandates and social isolation.