Montana is finally above average when it comes to child well-being, according to the newest edition of the Kids Count Data book. To reach its conclusions Kids Count looks at a wide number of data points on various issues ranging from drug use and poverty to health care and education.

"We have moved up six spots in the rankings," said Montana Kids Count Data Center director Thale Dillon. "We were 30th last year, this year we are 24th and its the biggest upward movement of any of the states. If we look at health, we were 47th last year, 50 for the two years prior to that, but this year our ranking is 39 and that is because we are doing much better.

Improvement in two areas has been particularly dramatic.

"In 2008 we had a child and teen death rate of 36 per 100,000 kids," Dillon said. "It is now 29 per 100,000 kids... the general trajectory is downward. The same with teens that abuse alcohol or drugs, it went from 9 percent six years ago to six percent."

According to Dillon, Montana still lags behind other states in many areas, she says the biggest gap appears to be the number of children receiving preschool education where Montana ranks 43rd  out of the 50 states.

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