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Texas remains near bottom in kids well-being

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Monday, June 24, 2024   

Texas is near the bottom in this year's annual Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Book, which studies trends in child well-being.

The report focused on four areas, economic well-being, education, health, and community and family. Overall, this year's results either remained the same as last year or worsened, putting Texas in 43rd place.

Coda Rayo-Garza, director of research and data for the advocacy group Every Texan, said lawmakers should prioritize different issues.

"We aren't properly investing in the policies and policy solutions that we need so that we can actually start seeing upward or improvement across all of these different indicators of child well-being," Rayo-Garza contended.

The report showed 33% of Texas children live in households with a high housing cost burden and 70% of fourth graders are not proficient in reading.

Texas saw a slight improvement in the family and community category covering children living in single parent families and in high poverty areas but still ranked 47th overall. Rayo-Garza acknowledged the improvements but stressed there is still a lot of work to be done.

"In the long run, like, if we look back at the last 10 years, we need significant enough shifts in these numbers, so that we can move up in the ranking," Rayo-Garza asserted. "Yes, there were improvements, but in aggregate, for this theme we are still considered one of the worst states for family and community context."

The Texas numbers mirror national statistics.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said across the country there are worse educational outcomes for students of color, kids in immigrant families and children from low-income families or attending low-income schools. She emphasized the gaps they face can affect their ability to succeed and thrive as adults.

"We continue to see disparities persist for kids of color, particularly for Black kids, for Latino kids and for Native kids," Boissiere reported. "It's persistent across states, and it's pervasive across the decades that we've been reporting the Data Book."

She added there are a number of approaches in the report states can implement to help improve the well-being of children.

Disclosure: The Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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