AUSTIN – Texas children are starting their lives near the back of the pack, according to a new report.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book, released Monday, ranks Texas 41st overall in the country for child well-being, and in the bottom half of states in all its individual statistical categories. The annual study examines the condition of children and families the U.S.
Kristie Tingle, policy analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, says she believes a state with the financial resources and human capital that Texas has can do much better.
“‘Bottom 10’ definitely isn’t good enough for Texas – we need to be better,” says Tingle. “Every child in Texas should be healthy, well-educated and financially secure, and with the correct division of resources we can get there. But what we’re seeing is that the state isn’t investing in what our children need.”
In the report’s individual categories, Texas was ranked 30th in education, 32nd in economic well-being and 39th in health. Tingle says state lawmakers are failing to invest in Texas children. She says the state also ranks near the bottom for its investment in child protective services, and that lawmakers failed to properly fund pre-Kindergarten programs.
In her view, the KIDS COUNT Data Book contains vital information for anyone who analyzes or makes policy affecting children in the state.
“What we’re seeing in the family and community domain is that we’re actually 47th, nearly last. And in the health domain, we’re second to last in the percentage of children who lack health-insurance coverage,” she says. “So, these are really tangible things that this is measuring.”
The Casey Foundation’s Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy, agrees.
“We’ve been tracking these measures for more than 25 years because we believe in the importance of really getting a clear, unbiased measure of child well-being over time,” Speer explains. “We want folks to use this information to make good decisions, so that we can maintain the gains that we’ve been able to achieve.”
Speer urges lawmakers to invest in what works for kids.
Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service