By Amy Bracken
In some regards, teens are doing better in almost all of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. So says the newest annual Kids Count report, which is widely used by youth-serving agencies, youth advocates, lawmakers and the media. The report says teen death rates fell in all but four states between 1990 and 1998, with the greatest drop in Nevada (86 percent); the percentage of 16-19-year-olds who have dropped out of high school declined slightly during that period, and the percentage of teen 16- to 19-year-olds who neither went to school nor worked decreased or remained constant in 42 states.
The only trends that appear to have gone the wrong way were low birth weight babies (up 9 percent nationwide) and families with children headed by a single parent (up 13 percent).
Ranked according to 10 measures of child and youth well-being, New Hampshire tops the list, followed by Minnesota and Utah, with Mississippi coming in last. For the indicators of teen well-being, Massachusetts is the only state consistently among the top six.
In addition to this annual report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation funds a nationwide network of state-level Kids Count projects that provide a more detailed community-by-community picture of the condition of children. 184 pages. Free. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 701 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202. (410) 223-2890. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.kidscount.org.