Report: TN Economic Recovery Leaves Some Families Behind

The Annie E. Casey Kids Count Data Book finds that Tennessee children continue to live in poverty, even after economic recovery. Photo credit: gaborfromhungary/morguefile.com

The Annie E. Casey Kids Count Data Book finds that Tennessee children continue to live in poverty, even after economic recovery. Photo credit: gaborfromhungary/morguefile.com

The year 2014 represents the best year of job growth in the nation since 1999, but that upturn is skipping over thousands of Tennessee families, according to a report released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. According to the 2015 Kids Count Data Book, more than 390,000 children in the Volunteer State are living in poverty and 85,000 lack health insurance. Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, said efforts to improve the lives of children all add up to a bigger picture. “For Tennessee children, today and in the coming months and years, what we do for them will have a lasting impact on their opportunities for success in school and in life,” she said. “We’ve made progress, but we have a long ways to go to really producing the best outcomes for Tennessee children.” The Kids Count report ranked Tennessee 36th nationwide when it comes to child well-being and 36th for education. According to the report, the number of children living in poverty nationwide has increased from 18 percent to 22 percent and the number of children living in high-poverty areas has also increased since 2008. According to the report, one in three Tennessee children lives in a family that lacks secure employment. O’Neal said offering parents support to provide for their family has a trickle-down benefit for children. “We know substantially improving outcomes for children requires a two-generation approach to reducing poverty,” she said. “We must support parents, by improving education, employability and parenting skills, while at the same time providing high-quality early learning opportunities for their children.” The Casey Foundation recommended providing parents with ways to get family-supporting jobs, access to early childhood education and quality child care. The full report is online at aecf.org.