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Texas Still Among Worst States for Well-Being of Children

PHOTO: CREDIT: Greg Westfall
PHOTO: CREDIT: Greg Westfall
June 24, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas continues to be one of the worst states in the nation for children, with the latest snapshot on their well-being showing many areas of concern. The state is ranked 42nd overall in the 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Frances Deviney, director, Texas KIDS COUNT, said that is partly because the number of children living in poverty in the Lone Star State continues to grow, even post-recession.

"Poverty is one of the most accurate predictors of how kids are going to do overall," Deviney explained. "When kids are exposed to economic hardship, they're less healthy physically and mentally. They do worse in school. They're less well-adjusted emotionally. It really has these long-term effects."

The number of children in Texas living in poverty is now at more than 1.8 million.

Another key area of concern, Deviney said, is fourth-grader proficiency in reading, which fell to just 28 percent.

"The reason that's so important is there's really a tipping point. A that point, kids kind of stop 'learning to read' and they start 'reading in order to learn.'"

Among the report's indicators where Texas saw improvements were the number of children attending preschool, along with an increase in the number of kids covered by health insurance.

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John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX