Tennessee Sees Gains for Kids, Ranking 35th in the Nation for Overall Child Well-Being

Monday, June 12, 2017 | 6:47pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn., June 13, 2017 — Tennessee’s improvements for children in education, health and economic well-being placed the state at 35th, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today.

The Data Book ranks states in measures of child well-being across four domains and within 16 indicators. The annual report provides data over a five-year period as well as year-to-year. Tennessee ranks 26th in health, 33rd in education, 35th in economic well-being and 40th in family and community in this year’s Data Book.

“The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book reflects substantial progress during the administration of Governor Bill Haslam,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the state KIDS COUNT affiliate.

“The economic development and business recruitment gains contributed to economic well-being ranking improvements,” O’Neal said. “The educational strategies related to the state’s ‘Drive to 55’ and ‘Tennessee Promise’ have significantly contributed to improved outcomes for children and families, highlighting the importance of a two-generation strategy for the state’s long-term prosperity.”

The state has begun to reap the benefits of Tennessee Promise, signed into law in 2014 to provide tuition-free community college or college of applied technology (TCAT). The free-tuition program has given a greater number of high school graduates the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education, and has reduced the number who are neither in school nor working.

The state is being recognized nationally for Building Strong Brains: Tennessee’s ACEs Initiative. These efforts, with support from the governor and first lady Crissy Haslam and funding by the legislature, are creating innovative strategies to prevent and mitigate the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

In education, Tennessee’s children have improved in science, math and reading proficiency between 2010 and 2015. On time graduation rates also improved.

Addressing the state’s education ranking, O’Neal added, “Books from Birth, Read to be Ready, Summer Reading Camps, Lottery Education Afterschool Programs and 21st Century Learning Centers help students improve skills and score better in both reading and math.”

Health continues to be the state’s highest ranking. “Good public policies in Tennessee help children and teens avoid substance abuse and reduce preventable deaths: child restraint devices and seat belts in vehicles; bicycle helmets; life jackets in boats; graduated driver licensing, suicide prevention training; and other prevention strategies,” said O’Neal.

Release information

KIDS COUNT National Data Book is available June 13 at 12:01 a.m. EDT at www.aecf.org. Statewide and county-by-county data on Tennessee child well-being indicators are available at http://datacenter.kidscount.org. Information on Tennessee’s spending on children is at http://www.tn.gov/tccy/topic/rm-resource-mapping. For more information, contact (615) 741-2633 or a TCCY regional coordinator.

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About Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, an independent state agency created by the Tennessee General Assembly, is the Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT partner in the state. Each year the Commission also publishes KIDS COUNT®: The State of the Child in Tennessee, which should be released in late July.  The Commission’s primary mission is to advocate for improvements in the quality of life for Tennessee children and families. KIDS COUNT is an initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to disadvantaged children.

 

About the Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.