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Report Ranks Arkansas in Bottom 10 for Children’s Health, Sheds Light on Impact of Social Determinants

July 1, 2021

Author

Elizabeth (Izzy) Montgomery, MPA
Policy Analyst
501-526-2244
efmontgomery@achi.net

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Arkansas ranks 41st among U.S. states in children’s health, according to the latest KIDS COUNT Data Book release. Across all four of the report domains (economic well-being, education, health, and family and community), Arkansas had an overall state ranking of 39.

Arkansas’s rankings worsened in three of the four underlying indicators for health outcomes from 2010 to 2019.

  • Better: 6% of children in Arkansas were without health insurance in 2019, compared to 7% in 2010.
  • Worse: 9.2% of babies in Arkansas were born with low birth-weight in 2019, compared to 8.8% in 2010.
  • Worse: Arkansas had a child and teen death rate of 35 per 100,000 in 2019, compared to a rate of 34 per 100,000 in 2010.
  • Worse: 34% of children and teens (ages 10 to 17) in Arkansas are overweight or obese, compared to 30% in 2010.
    • Based on statewide childhood & adolescent body-mass-index (BMI) tracking in Arkansas, approximately 40% of students were classified as overweight or obese in the 2019–20 school year; however, statewide tracking includes a larger sample of students, including all public school students in grades K, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10.

While the report assigns a “better” or “worse” rating for each indicator based on data trends, there is no indication that these differences over time are statistically significant.

Three other domains in the report, and their underlying indicators, provide insight into how other social determinants impact the health of children and families in Arkansas. For example, across the economic well-being and family and community measures, the state improved from 2010. Fewer children were living in poverty in 2019 (22%) compared to 2010 (28%), and the state’s teen birth rate dropped considerably from 52 per 1,000 in 2010 to 30 per 1,000 in 2019. On the education measure, Arkansas improved or stayed the same across three of the four underlying indicators. On the other hand, the state fared worse on the percentage of young children ages 3 and 4 who were not in school (e.g., nursery school, preschool, or kindergarten), which increased from 51% in 2010 to 53% in 2019.

The KIDS COUNT Data Book is released annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an organization devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, and social and health outcomes.