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St. Johns County rated best for children

Published on January 3, 2023 at 12:38 pm

St. Johns County does a better job of protecting children’s health and education than any other county in Florida, according to a new report from the Florida Policy Institute.

The 2022 Florida Child Well-Being Index lists St. Johns County first overall, first in economic well-being, 11th in education, 41st in health and first for family and community.

Overall, however, the institute concludes that Florida still faces challenges when it comes to improving outcomes for children. Children’s economic outlook has improved in several ways: Fewer are using drugs and alcohol; fewer elementary-age children are overweight; more are graduating on time; and fewer are landing in the criminal justice system, the study found. But more children are living in poverty — 14% compared with 8% in 2011-15.

Investing in children’s programs makes a difference, the report says. “Counties with higher rankings tend to be well-resourced places, where families can afford to invest in things like high-quality child care, education, and other opportunities for their children,” the report says. “Counties with lower rankings tend to be places that have borne the brunt of the state’s disinvestment in public services and where people face historic barriers to economic opportunity.”



The institute recommends that policymakers:

  • Prioritize child well-being and quality of life by preserving and expanding basic household supports like nutrition, housing and income assistance.
  • Nurture children by investing in affordable, quality early learning, thriving public schools and well supported teachers.
  • Build a stronger workforce by expanding access to higher education and job training.
  • Ensure all Floridians have access to affordable, quality health care.

Outside St. Johns County, here’s how the rest of Northeast Florida ranks.

  • Baker: 31st overall, 26th for economic well-being, 18th for education, 62nd for health, 24th for family and community.
  • Clay: sixth overall, fifth for economic well-being, 10th for education, 31st for health, eighth for family and community.
  • Duval: 27th overall, 35th for economic well-being, 43rd for education, eighth for health, 36th for family and community.
  • Nassau: fourth overall, third for economic well-being, 21st for education, 36th for health, second for family and community.
  • Putnam: 64th overall, 64th for economic well-being, 15th for education, 19th for health, 64th for family and community.

You can check all of Florida’s counties here.

On a national basis, Florida fell in the lower half of states, ranking 35th for the third straight year.

Information from Daylina Miller at WUSF Public Media was used in this report.


author image Senior News Director, WJCT Public Media

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 35 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. 

author image Senior News Director, WJCT Public Media

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 35 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida.