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January 19, 2012

Saying that a child's wellbeing is directly related to the state where she or he lives, the 2012 Kids Count data book ranks New Jersey first in the nation among states in its Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI). The index, published by the Anne E. Casey Foundation, looks at 28 indicators, from the percentage of those with health insurance to fourth and eighth grade reading and math scores to infant mortality rates and low birth rates, among other factors.

Although the nation's No. 1 ranking is significant, it does lag in the use of the data, since the 2012 rankings look at indicators from 2007.

According to the report, the rankings show a strong correlation between children's well-being and state policies that drive investments in children. Saying that higher taxes are better for children, the foundation says that states should increase investments in education and that policymakers must "recognize that the costs of shortchanging children today is too high a price to pay in the future."

While New Jersey ranked first in the nation, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Utah and Connecticut ranked second through fifth. New York ranked 10th, Pennsylvania ranked 11th and Delaware ranked 21st. The lowest-ranking states were New Mexico, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Nevada.

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