The latest KIDS COUNT report for Tennessee shows the state is continuing to make modest improvements in a few key areas.
One such area was in Tennessee’s high school dropout rate, which was down 3 percent from the last report. The teen pregnancy numbers are also down in the recent report
That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the bad news is more children in Tennessee are living in poverty.
As Press staff writer Sue Guinn Legg reported last week, 25 percent of Tennessee children were living in poverty in 2010. That’s up slightly from the 352,943, or 24 percent of children who were living in poverty during the previous year.
The KIDS COUNT report compiles child well-being data from all 95 counties in Tennessee and forms a composite ranking that is compared to other states.
These rankings are based on select indicators in the categories of health, economic well-being, education, family and community. The indicators take into account everything from the number of children on free and reduced lunches to teen pregnancy rates.
State and local officials need to examine these rankings closely and determine what can be done to improve the well-being of children in this state. Are existing tax dollars being spent wisely to address these problems? Are more funds needed? Are the state and local agencies responsible for addressing the needs of children doing their jobs? What can be done to help local schools meet the needs of children who are at risk?
A review is needed of the programs already in place to address many of the deficiencies identified in the KIDS COUNT report to make sure they are working and that kids do count in Tennessee.