Kids Count Reports:
2006 Kids in Poverty

Louisiana's rankings in Healthcare

Louisiana Public Education

National Center for Children living in Poverty


All Facts for Louisiana

There are more deaths and disabilities each year in the U.S. from substance abuse than from any other cause. Brandeis University, 1993.

            Louisiana Facts




  • Louisiana’s poverty rate is 19.2% – the second highest rate in the nation, and the highest in the South. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • More than 26% of Louisiana children live in poverty – the second highest rate in the nation and the highest in the South. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Ten percent of the babies born in Louisiana are low birth weight. That’s the second-highest percentage in the nation and the South. In many cases, low birth weight babies face added difficulties learning and need additional assistance to succeed in school.  (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Louisiana has the highest percentage in the nation of families with children headed by a single parent – 35%. The Southern average is 29%.  (2000 Kids Count Data Book)
  • Thirty-five percent of children in Louisiana live with parents who do not have full-time, year-round jobs. That’s the second-worst rate in the nation and the South. The Southern average is 29%.  (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • The nationally recognized Better Homes Fund cited Louisiana as the state where children are the most at risk for homelessness. (The Better Homes Fund.)
  • In Louisiana, 13% of teens age 16-19 do not attend school or work. That’s the second-highest percentage in the nation and, along with Tennessee, the highest in the South.  (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • During the 1999-2000 school year, 34% of the “at-risk” four-year-olds in Louisiana were not being served by any public early childhood program. That amounts to more than 13,000 children.  (LA Department of Education)
  • Fewer than half the fourth and eighth grade students who took the LEAP 21 “high stakes” test in 2000 reached the level of basic in math. Just over half reached the basic level in English.  (LA Department of Education)
  • Louisiana has the highest juvenile incarceration rate in the nation at a cost of more than $26,000 a year for every youngster housed in a state facility.  (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention & LA Legislative Auditor)

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Percent of Related Children in Single-mother Families who are Below Poverty:
1 Louisiana
2 Mississippi
3 West Virginia
4 Alabama
5 Arkansas

Facts on Poverty in Louisiana

1.       Poverty
Poverty is at the root of many risk factors for youth, including health, academic success and delinquency. The poverty rate in Louisiana is 19%, the 2nd highest in the nation and the highest in the South. Louisiana has the highest child poverty rate in the South (31%) and ranks 48th in the nation.

2.       Illness
Louisiana ranks 50th, the worst in the nation, in overall health indicators, such as disease rate. Lack of access to routine and preventive health care is a major contributor to Louisiana’s poor health status; we also rank last in terms of access to primary health care. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of poor health. Low birth weight is a significant indicator of poor health and is linked to many physical and neuro-developmental problems. Louisiana ranks 50th in the nation with the highest rate of low birth weight among infants (10%).

3.       Pollutants
Lead is one of the major contaminants; exposure has shown to be especially harmful to developing brain and nervous systems of young children. Louisiana is a national leader in the per capita production of hazardous wastes and in the amount of chemicals released into our air, water and soil. As of 1998, there were 128 confirmed and 342 potential (requiring further investigation) inactive and abandoned hazardous waste sites.

4.       Mental Illness
Approximately 110,450 children (10%) in Louisiana suffer from a serious emotional disorder; yet there are only three state hospitals that provide in-patient psychiatric treatment to children. This figure does not include all the youth suffering from depression, the most common under-diagnosed condition in young people.

5.       School
Louisiana spends on average $4,724 per child’s education and ranks 48th in the country for lowest teacher salaries. The equivalent of more than 2 classrooms of young people drop out every day and about 50,000 students are absent from school on any given day. A child in middle school is more likely to be suspended or expelled than a high school student.

6.       Recreation
Spending on after-school activities, such as band, extended day programs, and athletics, amounts to less than 2% of Louisiana’s total school costs, despite research demonstrating that after-school programming can both build youth’s strengths and reduce risk-taking behavior.

7.       Violence & Abuse
Every day, 40 children are reported as abused or neglected in Louisiana. In 1998, 14,791 children were reported abused and 5,911 children were placed in foster care. Louisiana ranked 45th for child death rate (34 of 100,000 children die each year) and 47th for the rate of teen deaths by accident, homicide or suicide.

Sources:  Council for a Better Louisiana, Measuring Our Progress, The People’s Agenda Report Card 2000, p.12 citing U.S. Census; Agenda For Children, 1999 Kids Count Data Book, p.2.

1.        La. DHH, 2000 Louisiana Health Report Card, p.154, 157; Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Book 2000, p.89; Agenda for Children, 1999 Kids Count Data Book, p.2.

2.        La. DHH, 2000 Louisiana Health Report Card, p.124-126.

3.        La. DHH, La. Adolescent Data Book, p.31

4.        U.S. DOE, "State Profiles of Public Elementary and Secondary Education, 1996-97" p.25; Agenda For Children, Kids Count Data Book 200, p. viii; La. DOE, 1998-99 La. State Education Progress report, p.17-19.

5.        OJJDP, Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999 National Report, p.65; La. DOE, 150th Annual Financial & Statistical Report 1998-99I, Bulletin 1472, p.II-2.

6.        Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Book 2000, p.89; Agenda for Children, 1999 Kids Count Data Book, p.vii.

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