Tennessee Improves In Child Well-Being For Children Of Color, Children In Immigrant Families

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tennessee’s future prosperity depends on affording opportunities to succeed to all the state’s children, including those of immigrant families, according to the 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. 

In addition to reporting on child well-being across various demographic groups, the new study focuses on the challenges faced by immigrants and children in immigrant families and the strengths they bring to communities, and recommends policies to stabilize families and assure all children meet developmental goals. 

Race for Results includes an updated index score for each state for children by race/ethnicity. The score is based on 12 indicators that measure a child’s success in each stage of life, from birth to adulthood, and looks at categories such as early childhood, education and early work experiences, family resources and neighborhood context. The maximum composite score for each group is 1,000. Tennessee demographic group index scores and rankings compared to other states are Black/African American, 346, 31st; Asian and Pacific Islander, 768, 24th; Hispanic or Latino, 391, 39th; and White, 625, 43rd. 

“We all win when our state makes opportunities available to each and every child,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the Tennessee KIDS COUNT affiliate. 

Nationally, report data show general improvement in the majority of indicators compared to a similar report three years ago. In many of the 12 indicators, children in immigrant families are succeeding at levels similar to children in U.S.-born families; at the same time, children of color and immigrant children face substantial obstacles. 

Tennessee data indicate smaller gaps among demographic groups than most states. White children in Tennessee still have significantly better outcomes in areas such as education and family income than children from African-American and Hispanic families. Asian and Pacific Islander children continue to have the highest index rating. 

A higher percentage of Tennessee children graduated from high school compared to national averages. Children in immigrant families in Tennessee are significantly more likely to live in two-parent households than are children in U.S.-born families, said the report. 

“Children in immigrant families in Tennessee across the centuries all have the same dreams. They, and we, want to implement innovative strategies that improve opportunities to thrive and contribute,” Ms. O’Neal said. 

The report recommends keeping families together and in their communities, helping children in immigrant families meet key developmental milestones and increasing economic opportunity for immigrant parents. 

Home visiting programs to connect families with community resources and improve health and developmental outcomes of young children, training to ensure educators and providers understand the role of trauma in the lives of those they serve, quality early childhood education, and Family Resource Centers help Tennessee meet these recommendations, said officials. 

“All children, including children of color and children in immigrant and refugee families, are the economic engine for Tennessee’s future. We must provide them the resources they need to succeed in school and in life,” Ms. O’Neal concluded.

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