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Tennessee Equipping Children to Face the Future

Embargoed until Contact: Linda O'Neal
May 1, 2002 Phone (615) 741-2633

Assisted by good public policies, Tennessee's children are coming into the world healthier and better able to grow, learn and take on life's challenges, according to a report released today.

The report, KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child in Tennessee 2001, is published annually by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

"Despite state budget constraints, good public policy choices by Tennessee leaders are producing positive outcomes for children, especially in the health care categories," said Linda O'Neal, the director of the agency.

Access to adequate prenatal care is improving. By 1999, approximately three-fourths of Tennessee's pregnant women received sufficient health care services during their pregnancies, compared to only about two-thirds in 1990. The prenatal care rate for (fill in county name) was (see attached sheet), (better/worse) than the state rate of 74.4

Tennessee's infant mortality rate, a related measure of community and individual well-being, has also improved, falling to seven per every 1,000 births in 1999 from 11 in 1989. The babies who died would have filled 30 kindergarten classes, eight in Shelby County. Infant mortality reflects both improved social and economic conditions and successful public policy efforts, including TennCare. The infant mortality rate for (insert county name) was (see attached sheet), (better/worse) than the state rate of 7.7.

Tennessee's children are much better able to fight disease because the rate of immunizations for 2-year-olds has increased from 81 percent in 1995 to 88 percent in 2000. Approaching the state's goal of 90 percent means more children and their communities avoid the drain on resources and opportunities caused by brain damage, permanent disability, birth defects and even death resulting from communicable diseases.

"And thanks to collaborative outreach efforts by the Department of Health, TennCare, private providers, and advocates," O'Neal reported, "we have almost closed the immunization gap between children on TennCare and those on private insurance."

"The outcome of Tennessee's current budget debate is pivotal," O'Neal said, "and will influence outcomes for children for many years. Good public policies - good choices - in Tennessee will protect children and families, and investing in their health, education and other service needs is essential for the future of our children and our state."

KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child 2001 contains 34 indicators of child and community well-being on individual county pages and statewide tables. These include information on health, education and economic security, as well as demographic data on children.

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: State of the Child 2001 is available on the Internet at It is partially funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For more information contact (615) 741-2633 or the TCCY coordinator in the region.