Not Great: Tennessee Children Rank 32nd in the Country in Kids County Survey
Verbatim from the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth:
The annual "Kids Count" Race for Results survey has been released in Tennessee. Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, a policy report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT project, identifies opportunity disparities between racial and ethnic groups and recommends ways to address them.
Race for Results includes a new index score for each state for all children and by race/ethnicity. The score is based on 12 indicators that measure a child’s success for each stage of life, from birth to adulthood.
Results of Survey:
For all children, Tennessee’s score ranked 32nd. The state scored better than the national average on two measures: on time high school graduation and the number of children living in homes with a householder who has at least a high school degree. On virtually all measures, both nationally and in Tennessee, Non-Hispanic Asian Pacific Islander and Non-Hispanic White children are doing better than Non-Hispanic Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino children.
“Tennessee has a fragile infrastructure of programs, including pre-k, home visitation and Family Resource Centers, all with a proven track record of providing children needed services and supports to prepare them for the future,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the Tennessee KIDS COUNT affiliate. “We must continue and expand these programs to provide foundational opportunities for all our children to be successful in school and in life.”
Home visitation programs focus on the families of infants and young children and help them get off to a good start. Pre-k and quality early childhood education programs help children enter school with the skills they need to succeed. Metro Nashville Public Schools Superintendent Jesse Register has called for efforts to expand voluntary pre-k for all children, an important strategy to increase early opportunities for minority children. Family Resource Centers, which operate in schools, are an effective strategy to help families in Tennessee overcome barriers they and their children face.
The report recommends expanded and improved data collection, and encourages analysis and use of this data in decision making, policymaking and targeting investments to yield the greatest impact on eliminating opportunity gaps. It also recommends development and implementation of evidence-based programs and practices for children and youth of color, as well as developing healthy communities that integrate strategies to explicitly connect vulnerable groups to high quality jobs and opportunities in economic and workforce development.
Pending legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly would require the Department of Education to report the number of student referrals to juvenile courts by schools, by gender and by race. This would provide essential data to identify factors in and develop strategies to address the disproportionate involvement of minority children in the justice system.
Parents as Teachers (PAT) is listed in the report as having demonstrated positive changes working with children of color. In three Tennessee cities (Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis) and in rural East Tennessee counties, Parents as Teachers programs help families who face diverse challenges. PAT programs are an example of home visitation programs that improve outcomes for vulnerable families.
The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is the state’s advisory group for administration of Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act funds and has responsibility for addressing disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system. In Memphis/Shelby County, concerted and collaborative efforts by the school system and the juvenile court have reduced unnecessary referrals to juvenile court and unnecessary detention, resulting in a positive impact on children of color.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is one of approximately 10 national funders participating with the public-private partnership, My Brother’s Keeper, to target efforts to reduce barriers and give boys and men of color opportunities to succeed.
The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is a small state agency created by the Tennessee General Assembly. Its primary mission is to advocate for improvements in the quality of life for Tennessee children and families. TCCY is a state KIDS COUNT affiliate, and partial funding is provided through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to disadvantaged children.
Links to Learn More:
Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children is available online at www.aecf.org. Statewide and county-by-county data on Tennessee child well-being indicators are available at http://datacenter.kidscount.org.
Fay L. Delk, M.A., Publications Editor
Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth