Arkansas Ranks 47th in Child Well-Being Index

The Foundation for Child Development (FCD) has released a state-by-state Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI). While evaluating the different factors that impact child well-being at the state level, FCD found that higher taxes mean more revenue for vital programs in education and health which lead to better outcomes for children. They also found that public investments for children do have a large impact on child well-being and that a child’s well-being is strongly related to the state where a child lives.


The CWI is based on seven categories that represent a child’s well-being and include: family economic well-being, health, safe/risky behavior, educational attainment, community engagement, social relationships and emotional/spiritual well-being. Overall, Arkansas ranked 47th, above only Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico.


Family Economic Well-Being[i]


Safe/Risky Behavior[iii]



Community Engagement[v]

Social Relationships[vi]


Spiritual Well-Being[vii]










State and local taxes have the strongest correlation with CWI. It was found that states with higher state taxes had children with higher CWI values. This is due to the fact that higher taxes mean higher revenue which in turns leads to more and better programs for children in areas like education and health.


Public investments in children matter. Programs for children receive little federal money, so it makes the dollars invested at the state and local level all the more important. States invest in children through education funding, Medicaid eligibility and TANF benefits.


Arkansas’s rankings in the seven domains indicate that we could be doing a lot more for our children and the future of our state. There are many things our state can do to improve the well-being of our children which will also improve the future well-being of Arkansas:

  • Invest in policies and programs that meet the basic needs of children and allow them to flourish.
  • Increase investments in education, especially in programs that have quality, early education components that are tied into the K-12 education system.
  • Make sure that every child has access to healthcare.
  • Increase the uptake of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and introduce a state EITC.


For more information, visit the Foundation for Child Development at https://fcd-us.org/resources/investing-public-programs-matters-how-state-policies-impact-childrens-lives.




[i] Family economic well-being indicators include families with children in poverty, children without secure parental employment, median income for families with children and children without health insurance coverage.

[ii] Health indicators include infant mortality rate, low birth weight babies, mortality rate, children not in very good or excellent health, children with functional limitations and children and teens that are overweight or obese.

[iii] Safe/Risky behavior indicators include teen birth rate, cigarette use in the past 12 months (ages 12-17), binge drinking among youths (ages 12-17), and illicit drug use other than marijuana (ages 12-17).

[iv] Educational attainment indicators include average reading scores for fourth and eighth graders and average math scores for fourth and eighth graders.

[v] Community engagement indicators include young adults who have not received a high school diploma, teens not in school and not working, percentage of children (ages 3-4) not enrolled in school, young adults who have not received a B.A. degree, and young adults who did not vote in the election.

[vi] Social relationships indicators include children in single parent families and children who have moved within the last year.

[vii] Emotional/spiritual well-being indicators include suicide rate (ages 10-19) and children without weekly religious attendance.