When it comes to raising children location is important. Parents want their children to have the opportunity to attend the best schools and also to enjoy their childhoods and make friends. But many places with the best schools and the best economic opportunities tend to be the least affordable. SmartAsset considered these and other metrics to find the best places for children in 2017.
In order to find the best places for children, we analyzed data on 198 metro areas. We gathered data on metrics like percent of kid-friendly establishments, median home value, high school graduation rate, math proficiency rate, language arts proficiency rate, child poverty rate, percentage of population under age 20, air quality, water quality, intergenerational mobility, infant mortality rate, child mortality rate and the percent of children who are uninsured. Check out our data and methodology section below to see where we got our data and how we put it together.
This is SmartAsset’s third annual study on the best places for children. Read the 2016 version of the study here.
- Three-time champ – For an impressive three years in a row, Cedar Rapids is the best place for children in America. The Cedar Rapids area has some of the best schools and highest-performing students in the country. It also scores high marks for intergenerational mobility.
- Move to the Midwest – All but one of the top 10 places for children are in the Midwest. Midwest metro areas tend to do a good job graduating students and come with plenty of entertainment options for local children.
- Struggling South – Last year, we highlighted Florida as the state which was letting its children down. This year Florida improved with only one Sunshine State metro area in the bottom 10 places for children. However, Southern metros still dominate the bottom of this list, claiming seven of the 10-lowest spots.
1. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Cedar Rapids is once again the best place for children in the country. Some of its scores have improved since last year’s study. For example the graduation rate rose from 88.49% to 88.53%, and language arts proficiency rate rose from 76.92% to 79.56%. That language arts rate is the second-highest in the study.
In other metrics Cedar Rapids did not score as well as it did last year. The area’s math proficiency rate dropped from 80.32% to 76.34%. The child poverty rate also increased from 11.9% in last year’s study to 13.4% in this year’s study.
2. Rochester, Minnesota
Rochester climbed from six in last year’s study to claim second in this year’s study. Med City improved its scores in language arts proficiency, child poverty rate and percentage of population under 20.
The best argument for why Rochester is great for children is its intergenerational mobility score. No metro area in the study gives children a better shot at moving up the income ladder than Rochester. This area also scores well in environmental factors like air quality and water quality.
3. Appleton, Wisconsin
Appleton catapulted from ninth last year to third this year. This metro area has the ninth-highest percentage of establishments which are kid friendly, including five arcades and eight bowling alleys.
The area also has the highest graduation rate in the study. Over 94% of Appleton students graduate. However Appleton’s reading and math scores show room for improvement. Only 51% of students are proficient in language arts and 58% are proficient in math.
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