The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth released its annual KIDS COUNT report on child well-being today, A Blueprint for the Success of Tennessee’s Children. It includes statistical information about all 95 of the state’s counties and identifies the public structures and programs essential for Tennessee’s children to be born healthy and have opportunities for success in school and in life.
“In recent years solid evidence has emerged about the investments in programs and practices that pay off in improved outcomes for children,” said TCCY Executive Director Linda O’Neal. “Better analysis and evaluation and a focus on outcomes from years of research are demonstrating what we can do as a state to improve the well-being of our children.”
The book examines the best practices, strategies and solutions to ensure Tennessee children can compete in a global economy. It highlights best practices to address infant mortality, children’s mental health, school success and other investments to improve long-term prospects for children. Information is also included about effective interventions for hurting or troubled children and families when community supports have been inadequate.
Governor Bredesen and the General Assembly collaborated in expanding investments in evidence-based programs in the 2007 session. Continued expansion of quality pre-K programs for low income children is critical. Research demonstrates this has long-term benefits in increasing positive outcomes and reducing negative behaviors. The final budget also included additional funding for Nurse Home Visiting, Child Advocacy Centers and Court Appointed Special Advocate Programs, all highlighted in the book.
In other areas, such as establishing systems of care for families dealing with a child’s mental illness or requiring evidence-based juvenile justice programs, the state is just beginning to make strides.
“Improving child well-being requires identifying what works, and then having the commitment to invest in those programs that clearly work,” O’Neal said. “It sometimes means we have to change from familiar, but less successful, strategies to those more likely to ensure children flourish.”
The report brings together information on 39 indicators of health, education, child welfare, economics and demographics.
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. Partial funding for TCCY’s KIDS COUNT program is provided through a grant from 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. KIDS COUNT State of the Child: A Blueprint for the Success of Tennessee’s Children is available on TCCY’s website at www.tennessee.gov/tccy/kc-soc06.html.