ENID, Okla. — A new report ranks Oklahoma seventh-worst in the nation for the rate of underprivileged children.

The report, "2019’s States with the Most Underprivileged Children," was published this week by the financial analysis website WalletHub. WalletHub teamed up with sociology and social work professors from four universities to compare the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Their report measured 26 metrics across three dimensions: socio-economic welfare, health and education.

"When all such needs are met, children have a better chance of a stable and happy adult life," the report's authors wrote. "But in reality, not every child is so privileged — even in the richest and most powerful nation in the world."

The report noted the United States has the seventh-highest rate of child poverty — more than 29 percent — among economically developed countries, and cited data from Children’s Defense Fund, finding "a child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds and the total costs of maltreatment per year reach $80.3 billion."

Oklahoma ranked seventh-worst in the nation for the rate of underprivileged children, and was below average in all eight of the metric areas used in the report.

Oklahoma was fifth-worst in the nation in its infant mortality rate and percentage of uninsured children, and ranked seventh-worst in the rate of food insecurity among children and the percentage of children in foster care.

The state's rankings in other measured areas included, with 1 being the worst, or highest rate of underprivileged children: homeless rate among children and teens, 22nd; percentage of children in single-parent families, 20th; percentage of children living in households below the poverty line, 15th; and percentage of maltreated children, 10th.

The states that ranked worse than Oklahoma, beginning at the bottom, were the District of Columbia, New Mexico, West Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alaska.

Other neighboring states' rankings, with 1 being the worst, were Kansas, 35; Texas, 29; and Arkansas, 12.

New Jersey, overall, had the lowest rate of underprivileged children in the nation, according to the study, followed in the top five by New Hampshire, Connecticut, Minnesota and Maryland.

The WalletHub report is by no means the first report to take note of Oklahoma's low rankings for children's outcomes.

In March, Zero to Three, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit childhood advocacy group, and Child Trends, a Bethesda, Md.-based research organization, teamed up to release "The State of Babies Yearbook: 2019."

Oklahoma was among 13 states ranking in the lowest tier out of four. The study highlighted persistent issues in Oklahoma that stymie healthy development in many young children.

Oklahoma ranked in the bottom tiers for overall ranking, health outcomes and family support systems for children ages 0-3. Oklahoma was ranked in the second tier for positive early learning experiences.

In June, Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual "Kids Count" report, showing some improvement in Oklahoma's economic, health, education and social factors for children, although the state remained in the bottom 20 percent of the rankings.

The "Kids Count" report ranked Oklahoma 42nd among the 50 states, an improvement from 44th a year ago.

The full WalletHub report can be accessed at https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-underprivileged-children/5403.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
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I am a retired Naval Officer and small business owner, outside of my work at the News & Eagle. My wife Tammy and I enjoy serving together at church and attending Gaslight and ESO. We have two daughters, three dogs and little free time.