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N.D. Child Well-being Shows Modest Drop

North Dakota ranks 12th best in the nation on child well-being indicators, slipping from its typical spot among the top 10 states.

According to the national KIDS COUNT program, North Dakota ranks 12th best in the nation on child well-being indicators, slipping from its typical spot among the top 10 states nationwide.

Areas of concern focus on North Dakota’s teen death rate (only six states reported higher rates in 2007), infant death rate (17th highest rate in 2007), rising high school dropout rate and a child poverty rate that has not improved for the past several years.

“These comparative rankings provide us an opportunity to compare our performance on child well-being indicators relative to other states,” says Richard Rathge, North Dakota KIDS COUNT policy analyst. “Dropping below the top 10 in the nation should motivate us to examine our priorities and reassess how we can improve the lives of our children.”

Areas in which North Dakota continues to rank well include the percentage of children in single-parent families (third lowest) and the percentage of children without secure parental employment (third lowest) among all 50 states.

North Dakota has the fourth lowest percentage of low birth-weight babies and the eighth lowest share of teens who are not in school or working.

This month’s edition of “Population Bulletin,” released from the North Dakota State Data Center at North Dakota State University, presents selected indicators from the “2010 North Dakota KIDS COUNT Fact Book” (available at The 2010 edition marks the 16th year the publication has been produced by the North Dakota KIDS COUNT program. The program is part of a nationwide network founded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to collect information about the status of children.

The “2010 North Dakota KIDS COUNT Fact Book” helps provide insight into where the greatest concerns are for children through county level data, as well as data aggregated for the eight planning regions in the state.

Of particular concern is planning region I, which is in the northwestern part of the state (Divide, McKenzie and Williams counties). Children in this part of the state have the largest high school dropout rate (6 percent in 2008 through 2009, which is up from 1 percent in 2000 through 2001), the largest rate of youth being referred to juvenile court (12 percent in 2009, which is up from 8 percent in 2000) and the largest rate of children suspected of being abused and neglected (7 percent in 2009, which is up from 4 percent in 2000).

Poverty continues to be an issue for children in North Dakota. Native American reservations are the most affected by high rates of child poverty. For example, in Sioux County, which includes part of the Standing Rock Reservation, one out of every two children was impoverished in 2008 (53 percent). This is the sixth highest child poverty rate in the nation when ranked among all counties.

Data included in the annual publication cover issues affecting children from birth through adolescence and offer a road map to better understanding the challenges facing North Dakota’s children.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Richard Rathge, (701) 231-8621,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
KIDS COUNT Statistics by County Preview
(0907 population bulletin.pdf - 871.78 Kb)
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