KIDS COUNT, a project of the Annie E. Casey foundation, is an effort to provide state legislators, public officials and child advocates with reliable data, policy recommendations and tools needed to advance sound policies that benefit children and families. The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is the Tennessee KIDS COUNT affiliate, providing county-level data to the KIDS COUNT Data Center, promoting KIDS COUNT data publications, and annually publishing KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child in Tennessee.
William Edwards Deming—a driving force behind the development of Japanese management principles—was known to say “In God we trust. All others bring data.” The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth promotes evidence-based policy, and data is where the evidence is found.
KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child in Tennessee is an annual data book that tracks the status of children by analyzing state- and county-level statistical indicators of child well-being using social, educational, economic and health data. Tennessee's program cooperates with state departments, universities and other organizations to collect information used in the book.
Tennessee's Education Gains Offset by Losses in Other Domains
NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The well-being of Tennessee children has improved in many areas in the last 8 years, according to information in the KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Despite having been ranked in the 40s in earlier years, the state’s overall rankings in recent years have stayed in the 30s, including its ranking of 39th in the 2020 report.
“While changes in the way the data are collected limit our ability to compare this year’s ranking to older ones, TCCY is pleased Tennessee now ranks better than it did in the early days of its participation in KIDS COUNT when the state ranking was much nearer the bottom,” said Richard Kennedy, Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the state’s KIDS COUNT affiliate. Tennessee’s strongest gains came in 4th-grade reading proficiency and 8th-grade math proficiency, determined by scores on the biannual National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
“Tennessee’s school children are making gains,” said Kennedy. “Continued investments in education, especially to address the racial and ethnic disparities that remain, are key to the state’s future prosperity.” Though the data in the report documents the state of children and families before the pandemic, the report recognizes that 2020 will be remembered as a year of crisis. It recommends that states concentrate their efforts on helping children, families and communities become more resilient so they can continue to thrive.
The report also shines a light on the ongoing racial and ethnic disparities in the data. While children of all races and ethnicities have seen improvements over the last several years, disparities are persistent and systemic.
Tennessee’s 2020 ranking on how the state is providing opportunities and supports to children and families is based on rankings in four domains - economic well-being, education, health and family and community context, each of which is comprised of four measures. Data from 2018, the most recent year available, is compared to data from 2010 to look at trends over time.
Tennessee’s highest rank is in the education domain at 29, and its lowest is for health, where the state ranked 48.
The state’s education domain rank is supported by the 90 percent of Tennessee high school students graduating on time in 2018, the third-highest rate in the country, and by relatively high achievement in 4th-grade reading and 8th-grade math. However, the state had one of the lowest rates of young children attending pre-K programs, with over 60 percent not enrolled in early childhood education.
Tennessee struggles with health issues and fell in the rankings to 48th from 33rd last year. Low birth weight continues to be a challenge, with 9.3 percent of babies born at low birth weight, higher than the national average of 8.3 percent, and one of the 10 highest rates in the country. The state’s ranking was also negatively affected by a change in indicators that make up the health ranking. A previous measure of teen substance use was problematic and was switched out for a measure of youth overweight and obesity. Tennessee had always ranked well on the substance use measure, but the state is 48th on the overweight and obesity measure. This change has lowered Tennessee’s overall health rank.
The state dropped a bit across all measures in the economic well-being domain compared to last year, moving to 43rd from 32nd. Family economic challenges continue to be a problem for the state, with more one in five children living in poverty. However, Tennessee has seen improvement in all the economic well-being measures compared to 2010.
The state has also lost a little ground in family and community context, falling to 42nd from 39th last year. Tennessee’s teen birth rate dropped from 43 per 1,000 in 2010 to 25 per 1,000 in 2018; however, rates in other states decreased at a faster rate, leaving Tennessee ranked 41.
“Tennessee has been a leader in good public policy. With multiple challenges facing children and families during the Covid-19 pandemic, this is a moment for Tennessee to increase investments to support families rather than reduce them,” said Kennedy.
New Child Well-Being Report Focuses on Challenges Rural Counties Face
Profiles Released with Report Rank Counties from Williamson to Davidson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The differing challenges faced by Tennessee’s urban and rural counties, as well as those that are shared, are explored in KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child in Tennessee, released today. This report, produced by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the Annie E. Casey Foundation Tennessee KIDS COUNT® partner, is released in conjunction with county profiles for all 95 Tennessee counties. The profiles include substantial county-level data and county ranks in important areas affecting child development: economic well-being, education, health and family, and community. The profiles also list county measures on 38 indicators.
“The inauguration of a new governor always brings with it a change in priorities and a new way of looking at old problems,” said TCCY Executive Director Richard Kennedy. “Governor Lee has put a focus on some of the state’s most economically-challenged rural counties, and TCCY has disaggregated as much data as possible by rural status in the report to help identify policy priorities for those areas.”
The counties ranked in the top 10 are Williamson, Sumner, Wilson, Overton, Washington, Montgomery, Blount, Rutherford and Smith. The most challenged are Hardeman, Lake, Union, Shelby, Hancock, Haywood, Madison, Clay, Cocke and Davidson. Individual county ranks, especially those for counties with fewer residents may vary greatly from last year as small changes in some measures used to determine the rates, such as child deaths, may have an outsize effect.
KIDS COUNT: State of the Child in Tennessee is available online at https://www.tn.gov/content/tn/tccy/kc/tccy-kcsoc19.html or from a TCCY regional coordinator. County Profiles are available at https://www.tn.gov/content/tn/tccy/kc/tccy-kcsoc/county-profiles.html.
Tennessee’s Growing Child Population: More Reasons to Focus on Improving Child Well-Being Today
NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The well-being of Tennessee children has improved in many areas in the last 30 years, according to information in the KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Despite having been ranked in the 40s in earlier years, the state’s overall rankings in recent years have hovered in the mid-30s, including its ranking of 36th in the 2019 report.
“While changes in the way the data are collected limit our ability to compare this year’s ranking to older ones, TCCY is pleased Tennessee now ranks better than it did in the early days of its participation in KIDS COUNT when the state ranking was much nearer the bottom,” said Richard Kennedy, Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the state’s KIDS COUNT affiliate.
Tennessee is among the top quarter of states with the greatest increase in the number of children between 1990 and 2017.
“Tennessee’s 1.5 million children are each born with potential for success if given the opportunities and support needed to nurture their growth,” said Kennedy. “The state’s future relies on them.”
The 2019 KIDS COUNT® Data Book will be available at www.aecf.org. Additional information is available at www.aecf.org/databook. The 2019 KIDS COUNT® Data Book will be available June 17 at 12:01 a.m. EDT at www.aecf.org. Additional information is available at www.aecf.org/databook.
Tennessee Shows Reduction in the Number of Children Living in Concentrated Poverty
One of 29 States Nationwide to Show Progress in Child Poverty Rate According to New Data Snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The percentage of Tennessee children living in areas of concentrated poverty fell 7% between 2013 and 2017, according to “Children Living in High Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods,” a new KIDS COUNT® data snapshot released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Using the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, the snapshot examines where concentrated poverty has worsened across the country despite a long period of national economic expansion.
Living in a neighborhood with a high level of concentrated poverty, in addition to putting children at risk from environmental exposure and reduced opportunities, can cause chronic stress and trauma. The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the Tennessee KIDS COUNT affiliate, partners with other state and private agencies through the state’s Building Strong Brains Tennessee strategy to empower all Tennesseans to respond to childhood adverse experiences.
The 200,000 Tennessee children living in concentrated poverty would nearly fill Neyland Stadium twice and make up almost one of every eight children in the state.
The report is available at http://bit.ly/2mqvsfK.
Tennessee Missing Opportunities to Give Young Adult Parents and Their Kids a Boost
New Casey Foundation report illuminates needs and barriers facing Tennessee’s young parents and their children
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With limited access to opportunities to advance their education and find family-sustaining jobs, Tennessee’s 75,000 young adult parents face hurdles to support their children and fulfill their own potential, according to Opening Doors for Young Parents, the latest KIDS COUNT® policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The fifty-state report reveals that, at 13 percent, Tennessee is above the national average (10 percent) of youth ages 18 to 24 who are also young parents.
“Becoming a parent is life-changing at any age,” said Rose Naccarato, KIDS COUNT director at the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, “but young parents are less likely to have
finished their education or found a long-term career and so they have unique challenges to their time and finances.”
Opening Doors for Young Parents is available at https://www.aecf.org/opening-doors-for-young-parents.
KIDS COUNT/Resource Mapping Director