On June 22, 2020, The Annie E. Casey Foundation released this year’s edition of the KIDS COUNT® Data Book, an annual report that tracks child well-being, both nationally and state by state, and ranks the states accordingly.
By spotlighting the KIDS COUNT Data Book each year, we aim to give the CASA community a higher-level understanding of how children and families are faring both in Texas and nationally—broadening our lens, grounding ourselves in data, and improving how we approach advocacy.
The report creates rankings based on four separate domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community—with four well-being indicators in each domain.
Despite gains for children of all races and income levels, racial inequities proved deep and persistent, both nationally and state by state. The 2020 Data Book shows national improvement for all children on 11 well-being indicators. Three indicators stayed the same, and two worsened. Regardless, nearly all index measures indicated that children of color with the same potential experienced disparate outcomes compared to white children.
Black children were significantly more likely to live in single-parent families and high-poverty neighborhoods. American Indian children were almost three times more likely than the average child to lack health insurance and live in resource-limited neighborhoods. Latinx children ran the greatest risk of not attending school when they were young and living with a head of household who does not have a high school diploma.
It’s important to note that the 2020 report is based on 2018 data—before the COVID-19 crisis began. Keep this in mind as you review the report and our analysis, and know that The Casey Foundation plans to explore the effects of the pandemic on child well-being in a future report.
How did Texas fare in the rankings?
In the 2020 Data Book, Texas ranked 43rd out of all 50 states on overall child well-being, two steps down from 2019’s ranking of 41st. Texas has ranked in the bottom 10 states overall since 2012.
Economic Well-being (37th)
Texas moved up two spots in this category this year, from 39th to 37th—the only category where we improved our ranking.
Despite the fact that economic well-being parameters have been improving over the years, one in five Texas children (21%) are still living in poverty, higher than the national average of 18%, and one in four (26%) have parents who lack secure employment.
Texas dropped down from 30th to 34th in this year’s rankings.
70% of eighth-graders are not proficient in math (a 3% jump from last year), and 70% of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading (slightly better than last year’s 71%). One in 10 high school students didn’t graduate on time—better than the national percentage of 15%. 57% of young children ages 3 and 4 are not in school, the same percentage as last year.
11% of Texas children don’t have health insurance, more than double the national percentage. About one in three children age 10-17 are overweight or obese, defined in the report as having a Body Mass Index (BMI)-for-age at or above the 85th percentile—a newly added indicator for this year. Child and teen deaths per 100,000 decreased slightly, from 27 to 26.
Family & Community (47th)
Though Texas improved on three of the four parameters measured under the family and community domain this year, it continues to be our lowest overall rank.
Teen births per 1,000 dropped from 28 last year to 25 this year. Despite having cut our numbers by more than half since 2010, we continue to have one of the highest rates of teen birth in the U.S. Fourteen percent of children live in high-poverty areas, and 19% live in households where the head lacks a high school diploma—both higher than the national percentage.
It takes a community to care for children.
Has this saying ever rung more true? If we want to have a state and nation where every child and family is healthy, safe and supported, it will take each and every one of us working to improve these key indicators.
The Texas statistics are discouraging, but without clear data, we don’t know what we need to improve. By supporting children and strengthening families, and advocating for them in the courtroom and at the Capitol, CASA can transform the landscape for tomorrow—and help create a better Texas where all people have the support, resources and opportunity they deserve.
Want to learn how you can help bridge the gap for children and families in Texas? Visit www.BecomeACASA.org.
*The Casey Foundation notes that, due to changes in the Health domain, overall rankings should not be compared to previous years—therefore, we did not do so in this analysis.