By TONY EIERDAM
AUSTIN – New data released this week in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2013 National KIDS COUNT data book show that Texas kids were moving in the right direction in child well-being.
Although Texas’ overall child well-being ranking relative to other states improved slightly – from 44th in 2012 to 42nd in 2013 – Texas still ranks among the 10 worst states to be a kid in.
The report also shows how Texas ranks in four broad well-being categories, including ranked 30th for economic well-being and 36th for child health care.
Each of the categories is created from four specific indicators. When looking at those specific indicators over a longer period of time, the data show that for nine of the 16 indicators, Texas children are indeed doing better than they were a few years before.
For example, in the education category, more young kids are attending preschool and more eighth-graders are proficient in math.
In the health-care category, fewer Texas kids are uninsured and child and teen death rates have declined significantly.
“Improvements in child well-being are definitely what we want to see. Unfortunately, these improvements come with some important caveats,” said Frances Deviney, Texas KIDS COUNT director at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “The data in this year’s National Kids Count data book reflect child well-being at the end of a period of increased state investments in our kids’ well-being.
“For many of the data points, the most current data available is from 2011 – the year we decided to make massive cuts to investments in kids’ education and health care for 2012 and 2013.”
The significant cuts in critical areas of child well-being come on top of the fact that our kids’ well-being was already becoming worse for seven of the 16 specific indicators. For example, poverty has continued to worsen for Texas kids, even after the recession “ended.”