(RNN) - According to a new survey by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and KIDS COUNT Data Book, child poverty in the U.S. has increased in 38 states in the last decade.
The survey ranked U.S. states according to 10 indicators, including rates of child abuse, teen births, children in single parent homes and unemployment in the household. The survey then ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia, naming them the best and worst states for children to live in.
The Northeastern state of New Hampshire ranked No. 1 for its low percentage of children in single parent families and children with no parent working, while the Southern state of Mississippi placed last in the ranking for having the most children living in poverty.
The annual survey said the number of poor children in the U.S. rose by 2.5 million between 2000 and 2009, to 14.7 million.
"In 2009, 42 percent of our nation's children, or 31 million, lived in families with incomes below twice the federal poverty line, or $43,512/year for a family of four, a minimum needed for most families to make ends meet," Laura Speer, associate director for Policy Reform and Data at the Casey Foundation said in a press release.
Six Strategies the Casey Foundation suggests to improve life for U.S. children
1. Strengthen and modernize unemployment insurance and promote foreclosure prevention and remediation efforts.
2. Offset the high cost of child care, and provide health insurance coverage for parents and children.
3. Promote savings and asset protection and help families gain financial knowledge skills.
4. Promote responsible parenthood and ensure that mothers receive prenatal care.
5. Ensure that children are developmentally ready to succeed in school.
6. Promote reading proficiency by the end of third grade.
The recession and unemployment rates seem to be a big factor in the survey. With unemployment numbers staying steady instead of decreasing, more families are suffering.
"The recent recession has wiped out many of the economic gains for children that occurred in the late 1990s. Nearly 8 million children lived with at least one parent who was actively seeking employment but was unemployed in 2010. This is double the number in 2007, just three years earlier," Speer said. "The news about the number of children who were affected by foreclosure in the United States is also very troubling because these economic challenges greatly hinder the well-being of families and the nation."
The Data Book said five of the 10 indicators have improved since 2000. Infant mortality rate, child and teen death rate, teen births and the percentage of teens not in school and not high school graduates have all declined.
But three areas have worsened.
The percentage of babies born with low birth weight, child poverty rates and the percentage of children living in a single-parent home have all seen increases.
"The research and data tell us that children who grow up in low-income families are less likely to successfully navigate life's challenges and achieve future success," Patrick T. McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation said in a press release. "To decrease the numbers of children who are at risk for bad outcomes as a consequence of economic hardship, we must invest in strategies that can help children reach their full potential."
Both the Data Book and the Casey Foundation are promoting opportunities for the next generation by helping parents put their families on a path of economic success and enhancing children's developments, and urging policy makers to focus on ensuring children's health and education.
"In the years following World War II, we made great progress in child well-being and reduced many of the disparities associated with the differences in income and wealth, and race and ethnicity. Our challenge now is to find the will to make sound investments that can improve the economic prospects for families today while preparing our children for the future," McCarthy said.
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