According to The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT annual reports, Louisiana has averaged 49th in child well-being among the states for 26 years. During the past quarter of a century, in terms of child well-being, Louisiana’s children would have been better off living in 48 other states.

We must know this: Louisiana is not doomed to this poor ranking. Louisiana’s children are not doomed.

Fate did not put our children’s well-being at the bottom of the nation. We have simply chosen not to act for their benefit. We let the good times roll and look away from the deleterious impact of ignoring children’s issues.

Remember, our children are not doomed. Louisiana’s leaders in strategic positions must make the care of our children a priority. Our children are not destined to grow up among the nation’s harshest conditions. In fact, evidence shows a state can significantly improve the well-being of its children in a short period of time – when it decides to do so and acts on its decision.

Using data available from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT Data Center,, I have created the following table of states which have improved their overall child well-being rank among the states by two positions or more between 2014 and 2015.

Chart of states improving KIDS COUNT rank by more than 2 positions between 2014 and 2015

As the chart indicates, in a single year, 11 states (more than 20%) improved their rank in overall child well-being by two or more positions. Five states (10%) improved their child well-being rank by 3 or more positions. Minnesota made it to number 1 in child well-being with a 4 position move and Alaska improved by 6 positions between 2014 and 2015.

Note, too, these are not all liberal, wealthy states in the northeast. Some are even southern states! Look at South Carolina and Georgia.

Caring well for children requires effective leadership. Until the welfare of our children becomes a visceral, daily priority of our Governor, until our legislature actively commits itself to intentionally improving the well-being of our children, until leaders in communities throughout our state choose to make the welfare of our children a daily priority, until all of us in Louisiana care enough to care well for our children, Louisiana’s children will suffer.

Know this: our failure to care well for children will not be due to fate or destiny.

Our failure to prioritize the well-being of our children is a choice we make. Other states significantly improve child well-being.

Rick Wheat, President and Chief Executive Officer
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services

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