Policy Resource

State of Babies Yearbook: 2020 Reveals the Worst States for Babies

Jul 24, 2020

These 11 states fall in the bottom 25 percent according to the State of Babies Yearbook: 2020. Is your state among them?

We’ve already covered the best states for babies in a previous article, so naturally, it makes sense to also point out the worst. However, it is important to bear in mind that states at the bottom often have bright spots where they are tackling problems. And even the best states can do better for babies. How the state is doing relative to all other states, not measured against an absolute standard.

Within the 11 states in the bottom 25 percent according to the State of Babies Yearbook: 2020, there are absolutely things to celebrate – such as a higher percentage of babies receiving preventative medical care in Georgia and more babies being read to every day in Oklahoma when compared to the national averages – but the data clearly show several opportunities for growth. Depending on the state, those openings could include striving for better maternal and infant health outcomes or improving neighborhood safety and housing stability.

How are states ranked?

ZERO TO THREE has identified three policy areas essential for a good start in life: Good Health, Strong Families, and Positive Early Learning Experiences. Data on nearly 60 indicators across these impact areas provide a snapshot of how babies are faring throughout the nation and within their states.

All 50 states are categorized into four tiers, from lowest to highest-performing.

  • Getting Started (GROW)
  • Reaching Forward (GROW)
  • Improving Outcomes (GROW)
  • Working Effectively (GROW)

The top tier (W) is the top 25 percent of states while the bottom tier (G) is the lowest performing 25 percent of states. 

Listed in alphabetical order, here are the states that scored “G” in the 2020 Yearbook:

  1. Alabama 
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. Georgia
  5. Indiana 
  6. Kentucky
  7. Louisiana  
  8. New Mexico
  9. Oklahoma
  10. South Carolina 
  11. Texas 

The Story Doesn’t End There

As mentioned above, there are certainly things these states are doing well in terms of outperforming national averages. For example, fewer infants and toddlers in families with low income lack health insurance in Kentucky. In Texas, fewer children have had two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). In Arizona, Medicaid covers infant and early childhood mental health services at home, in pediatric/family practices, and in early childhood education settings.

However, these 11 states also have their work outlined for them in order to GROW in their support of infants, toddlers, and families. It’s imperative that states dedicate themselves to moving the needle on indicators such as decreases in infant and maternal mortality, increases in the number of insured low-income infants and toddlers, and increases in developmental screening.

We invite you to explore the State of Babies Yearbook, share the data from your states and others with your network, email policymakers and join us to ThinkBabies to improve outcomes for babies and families across the nation.

  • Author

    Sharon Bell

    Digital Engagement Specialist