Written by LIFT Alliance

by Katelyn Gorski, Communications Assistant, SafePlace
Thursday, June 27

The Center for Public Policy Priorities’ National KIDS COUNT 2013 data book is out. The report ranks the well-being of Texas kids in four categories: economic, education, health care and family and community. Overall, we are ranked 42nd in the nation for childhood well-being (up from 44th). This means that while we have improved, we also remain among the ten worst states in the nation in which to be a kid.

Texas KIDS COUNT Director Frances Deviney points out that the most recent data available is from 2011, the year massive spending cuts were made in kids’ education and healthcare. Consequently, we could actually rank lower than the current numbers suggest.

Investing in children is critical. When we reduce our investment in kids, they do not perform as well academically and they are less likely to move out of poverty. Right now, approximately 26.2 percent of Texas children are living in poverty, the number is growing, and Texas is ranked 45th in the ability of children to emerge from poverty.

Economic hardship affects education outcomes. Low-income children are not as likely to be enrolled in summer programs, and are more likely to experience summer learning loss than those whose parents can pay for summer enrichment activities. Studies show that on average students lose up to two months of grade-level reading and math equivalency over the summer, and the loss is greater for low-income students. Students from low-income families can lose even more grade-level equivalency in the summer—up to three months according to some studies.

Texas is making progress. We have moved up to 42nd in the nation for kids’ well-being. We know that more Texas children are enrolled in health insurance compared to the last study, and our rates of teen births and of child and teen deaths have also declined. Let’s keep that momentum going and get out of the bottom ten.