Arizona children fare worse overall than children in most states

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Arizona still ranks near the bottom in conditions for children.

That's the conclusion of the annual "Kids Count" survey which looks at a number of indicators.

The survey comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a children's advocacy group.

Arizona children are not doing well in several areas, including economic recovery.

The economy has been looking up in areas such as home foreclosures, and added jobs.

However, the child poverty rate has increased each year since 2007.

More than a third of Arizona children live in a house where no parent has full-time, year-round employment.

The state ranks 47th overall in 16 indicators for children.

That's one spot worse than last year.

Only Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico are ranked lower.

Arizona also ranks near the bottom in the percentage of children in high poverty areas.

Plus, the state is 49th in the nation in the number of children attending pre-school, unchanged from last year.

The Children's Action Alliance in Arizona says that's even though studies show that quality early childhood education is a good investment because it boosts success in school along with the state's economy.

Under-educated and unskilled workers tend to earn lower salaries.

Previous studies show that can have a devastating effect on a state's economy.

We talked with some young Tucsonans at the Boys & Girls Club of Tucson about their educations in Tucson.

"Kindergarten. It taught you the basics, but it also was essential because it caught you up and it taught you what you needed to know because if you missed that, you're spending a lot of time trying to catch up," says club member Alan Truong, a high school senior.

Troung adds that success in school "gives you confidence. It gives you bravery and courage to do other stuff that you might not think you can do. So success will push you to do other things."

Troung is the Frank and Edith Morton Clubhouse Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson.

He's also headed for college, as is David Johnson, another Boys & Girls Club member who is a high school senior.

"If we had some more professional industries coming into Arizona, inspired by better educated people in Arizona we might generate more revenue to pay for better education and increase the cycle forward," Johnson says.

"Right now, if the legislators decide not to choose to invest in their economic future, then they're only going to go further down in the rankings. I mean we only have one place left. 50," Johnson adds.

"Seeing as that is a trend, to me I think that it's kind of poor and somewhat pathetic because we should, as an entire states, be helping to raise our status as a state instead of being 49th. Seeing that should fuel us to want to do better," Truong says.

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