Tennessee Children Rank 32nd for Health, Well-Being

AP

NASHVILLE (AP) – A new national report finds Tennessee's children rank 32nd among all states for academic success, health and economic well-being.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/1dMV2Rn) the Annie E. Casey Foundation's "Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children" scores states on 12 measurements. They include child birth-weight, eighth grade math proficiency, rate of teen pregnancies, whether children live in two-parent families and percentage of children growing up in poverty.

The report found that black and Hispanic children trailed behind their white and Asian peers both in Tennessee and across the nation.

In Tennessee, white children scored almost twice as high as Hispanic and black children on a 1,000-point scale, but they still ranked 44th compared to children in other states.

The state's Asian and Pacific Islander children scored the highest of any group in Tennessee, receiving 774 out of 1,000 points. They also scored above the national average for Asian children on many measurements, including fourth grade reading proficiency and graduation rate. The group was below average for preschool enrollment.

Tennessee children as a whole scored above the national average on only two measures: on-time high school graduation and the number of children living in homes with at least one adult with a high school degree or better.

The report points to a strong correlation between race and poverty.

Terri Combs-Orme, a professor at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, told the newspaper, "Children of color basically have all the disadvantages you can think of that contribute to poor success, in school and in life."

Combs-Orme said research shows poverty causes stress on the brains of young children, making early childhood support programs especially important.

Responding to the report, leaders with the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth said efforts already underway could make a difference in outcomes for Tennessee's children. Examples of potentially helpful programs include home visitation for families with infants and quality preschools.

Information from: The Tennessean, www.tennessean.com

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