The U.S. high school graduation rate rose last year, a sign education systems across the country are finding greater success in preparing children for the future. Finishing school is just one indication of the quality of a child’s upbringing. Early education, health, and safety are crucial to providing children with the best chance to become healthy, productive adults.
When choosing where to raise their children, parents look at factors like these. However, some parts of the country struggle to provide a good environment for childhood development. Children in areas with high crime rates, low graduation rates, and low preschool enrollment rates are more likely to struggle later in life in their work and health.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed a number of educational, health, and safety measures to determine the worst cities to raise children in the United States. Our index included preschool enrollment figures and high school graduation rates, which each are meant to serve as a proxy for the quality of education in the area. Also included in the index were access to areas for physical activity, as well as violent crime rates.
While measures of income were not part of our index, many of the worst cities to raise children have low incomes, a factor which often corresponds with the factors we measured, such as violent crime and poor educational outcomes.
Two parts of the U.S. have a much greater share of struggling metro areas. Nine of the 25 worst places to raise a kid are located in the west, in states like California, New Mexico, and Oregon. Fourteen of those areas are spread out among the South. The remaining two metro areas, Danville, Illinois and Battle Creek, Michigan, are in the Midwest. Four California cities are among the worst to raise children, a larger number than any other state.