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Tennessee Improves in Child Well-Being Ranking

Embargoed until Contacts: Linda O'Neal or
May 22, 2008               Pam Brown
3:00 a.m. EDT Phone      (615) 741-2633

Tennessee ranks 42nd in the nation, better than 43rd last year, with improved outcomes for older children, but faces challenges in the care of the very youngest, according to the 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book. The 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book compares states on 10 core indicators of child well-being and shows Tennessee improved on six of the 10 measures.

Tennessee has implemented good public policies and strategies to improve outcomes for older children,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Commission on Children and Youth, the Tennessee KIDS COUNT grantee, “resulting in more children graduating from high school and fewer adolescents dying.”

Tennessee must continue and strengthen significant emphasis on improving preconception maternal health to reduce the number of low birthweight babies and infant deaths, efforts that take several years before the outcomes are reflected in data reported in the book.”

The 2008 essay discusses youth who are involved in state juvenile justice systems and highlights effective strategies for improving outcomes for these youth, including an effective continuum of community-based services, performance-based standards in juvenile facilities detention reform, and the Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI).  The essay also challenges local and state agencies to increase opportunities for positive youth development and reduce unnecessary and inappropriate detention and incarceration

The book emphasizes what researchers and science know about brain development and maturity and identifies effective strategies to provide children opportunities are on track for success. Most young people who become involved with the justice system eventually become law-abiding, contributing citizens. Developing programs that respond effectively and provide youth with the skills and education required for a good job are factors most associated with successful outcomes.

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is an independent 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.

The KIDS COUNT National Data Book is available on the Internet at www. kidscount.org and through TCCY’s website at www.tennessee.gov/tccy. The KIDS COUNT program is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to disadvantaged children. For more information, contact (615) 741-2633 or a TCCY regional coordinator.

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