'Kids Count' report tracks quality of life

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth released its annual KIDS COUNT report on child well-being. It focuses on increasing overall prosperity and quality of life by ensuring all communities are plugged into what experts call the Prosperity Grid, the supporting infrastructures that make prosperity possible.

The report, Opportunity for All Children in Tennessee, includes statistical information about all 95 of the state's counties and identifies the public structures and programs essential for Tennessee's children to be born healthy and have opportunities for success in school and in life.

"The foundation for a bright future for Tennessee depends on the opportunities we provide today to enable our children, families, workers, citizens to reach their full potential," Linda O'Neal, TCCY's executive director, said. end

"Tennessee needs strong communities that nurture families and children to support their development as productive citizens. Unfortunately, not all families and children have the supports and linkages necessary to prepare for optimum educational, economic and employment success."

The book identifies infrastructure Tennessee needs to assure families and children have the opportunity to succeed wherever they live. Among the supportive structures recommended are economic development policies to attract and retain well-paying jobs with benefits, the most basic support for strong families; quality child care and Pre-Kindergarten to help improve educational success; strong educational opportunities from kindergarten through higher education; access to affordable housing; and strategies to help families build assets, including promoting the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and avoiding predatory lenders.

The report also brings together information on 39 indicators of health, education, child welfare, economics and demographics.

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is an independent agency created by the Tennessee General Assembly. Its primary mission is to advocate for improvements in the quality of life for Tennessee children and families.

Partial funding for TCCY's KIDS COUNT program is provided through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to disadvantaged children.

For more information, contact (615) 741-2633 or a TCCY regional coordinator. KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child 2007, Opportunity for All Children in Tennessee is available on TCCY's website at www.tennessee. gov/tccy/kc-soc07.html.