(NASHVILLE), August 17, 2010 — The annual KIDS COUNT Report was released today by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth showing significant progress has been made in improving the well-being of children, with the state achieving its best ranking ever. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “2010 Kids Count Data Book” ranked Tennessee 39th in the nation, which is up two steps from the 41st ranking last year and seven above the 46th rank the state received in 2009.
“While we can celebrate positive movement in the right direction, we certainly have far to go to get to where we want to be regarding the well-being of children in Tennessee,” said Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) who has served on various House, Senate and special committees of the legislature dealing with the health and welfare of children. “We need to continue to push for improvements across the board where it concerns Tennessee’s future — our children.”
The Kid’s Count Report looks at the “well-being” of children in a number of critical areas to provide citizens, youth organizations, government officials, elected representatives and others with valuable information on where our state has experienced successes and areas where we need improvement. It compares states on core indicators of child well-being. These indicators include such matters as infant mortality, child deaths, child abuse and neglect, and high school dropouts, to name a few. There are numerous other secondary indicators, like teen pregnancy and adequate prenatal care.
Tennessee’s best ranking was 9th for percent of teens ages 16 to 19 who are not in school and are not high school dropouts. State officials with the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth attribute the improvements to a combination of encouragement on the part of the education system and good public policies, like mandatory school attendance until age 18 and linking eligibility for a driver’s license to staying in school.
On the negative side, the Kid’s Count Report showed Tennessee children, like those in other states, have suffered as a result of the recession due to unemployment and foreclosures.
“Job number one is bringing new employment opportunities to Tennessee,” added Overbey. “That is one of the most important challenges in the 2012 legislative session.”
The full report can be accessed at: www.tennessee.gov/tccy/kc-soc10.shtml.