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Rural, Urban Children in Poverty Face Common Problems

Embargoed until Contacts: Linda O'Neal
December 8 , 2004 or Pam Brown
12:01 a.m. EDT Phone (615) 741-2633

KIDS COUNT Special Report: City and Rural KIDS COUNT Data Book
Has New Data on Tennessee’s Children

Children living in America’s rural areas were more likely to live in poverty and less likely to have a telephone at home compared with all U.S. children, but they fared the same or better on eight other measures of child well-being, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“Though their environments are very different, rural and urban children and their families share the same kinds of problems, barriers and disconnections. They need the same supportive and effective services, economic opportunities, access to health care, affordable child care, and strong community networks for children to succeed,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT partner in Tennessee.

In rural Tennessee one in five children lives in poverty, the same level as in Nashville, and a slightly higher rate than for all children in Tennessee. In the city of Memphis substantially more children live in poverty, almost one in three, but in actual numbers, more children live in poverty in rural Tennessee than in the city of Memphis, and almost as many as Nashville and Memphis combined.

More children in rural areas live in homes without a telephone than in Nashville and Memphis. In contrast, city children are more likely to live in homes without a vehicle. Negotiating public transportation can be difficult in the city, but its absence in rural areas makes a vehicle essential for families to get to work, shopping or health care.

The availability of low cost housing is a large unmet need for low-income families with children in urban and rural areas. Almost one in two low-income children in rural areas and almost two in three in urban areas live in families that spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing.

Nashville has a higher percentage of children who have difficulty speaking English than does the city of Memphis. On all other measures, Nashville does the same as or better than Memphis. Nashville and Memphis percentages are the same as or worse than the rural areas on all indicators except fewer children live in a home without a telephone in the cities and in Nashville, fewer children live with a household head who is a high school dropout.

The percent of children under age 6 in rural areas grew faster from 1990 to 2000 than in Memphis and Nashville

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