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Well-Being of Tennessee Children Worsened in 2012

PHOTO: CREDIT: CTD 2005
PHOTO: CREDIT: CTD 2005
June 24, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The latest snapshot on the well-being of children in Tennessee shows an overall worsening over the past year. The state is ranked 39th in the country in the 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book, down three spots from the year before. One way to reverse that trend, according to Linda O'Neal, executive director, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, is to invest more in early childhood.

"We need to focus our resources on strategies that have a high return in child well-being and healthy development, such as home-visiting programs and pre-kindergarten programs that focus on disadvantaged children and give them the opportunity to enter school ready to learn and to be successful in school and in life," she said.

Among the four areas of well-being that the report analyzed, Tennessee's worst ranking came in the category of education.

Also troublesome was the finding that more than one in four Tennessee children, or nearly 400,000 kids, live in poverty. O'Neal said working to improve their lives will also mean positive impacts for the state as a whole.

"The future prosperity of any society really depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation," she said. "When we invest wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship."

Indicators where Tennessee saw improvements included a decrease in the number of children without health insurance, along with a increase in the number of high school students graduating on time.

More information is available at http://www.tn.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN