NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Tennessee’s improvements for children in education, health and economic well-being placed the state at 35th, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today.
The Data Book ranks states in measures of child well-being across four domains and within 16 indicators. The annual report provides data over a five-year period as well as year-to-year. Tennessee ranks 26th in health, 33rd in education, 35th in economic well-being and 40th in family and community in this year’s Data Book.
“The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book reflects substantial progress during the administration of Governor Bill Haslam,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the state KIDS COUNT affiliate.
“The economic development and business recruitment gains contributed to economic well-being ranking improvements,” O’Neal said. “The educational strategies related to the state’s ‘Drive to 55’ and ‘Tennessee Promise’ have significantly contributed to improved outcomes for children and families, highlighting the importance of a two-generation strategy for the state’s long-term prosperity.”
The state has begun to reap the benefits of Tennessee Promise, signed into law in 2014 to provide tuition-free community college or college of applied technology (TCAT). The free-tuition program has given a greater number of high school graduates the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education, and has reduced the number who are neither in school nor working.
The state is being recognized nationally for Building Strong Brains: Tennessee’s ACEs Initiative. These efforts, with support from the governor and first lady Crissy Haslam and funding by the legislature, are creating innovative strategies to prevent and mitigate the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
In education, Tennessee’s children have improved in science, math and reading proficiency between 2010 and 2015. On time graduation rates also improved.
Addressing the state’s education ranking, O’Neal added, “Books from Birth, Read to be Ready, Summer Reading Camps, Lottery Education Afterschool Programs and 21st Century Learning Centers help students improve skills and score better in both reading and math.”
Health continues to be the state’s highest ranking. “Good public policies in Tennessee help children and teens avoid substance abuse and reduce preventable deaths: child restraint devices and seat belts in vehicles; bicycle helmets; life jackets in boats; graduated driver licensing, suicide prevention training; and other prevention strategies,” said O’Neal.
KIDS COUNT National Data Book is available June 13 at 12:01 a.m. EDT at http://www.aecf.org. Statewide and county-by-county data on Tennessee child well-being indicators are available at http://datacenter.kidscount.org. Information on Tennessee’s spending on children is at http://www.tn.gov/tccy/topic/rm-resource-mapping. For more information, contact (615) 741-2633 or a TCCY regional coordinator.
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