Data Across 50 States Show Struggles with Tennessee Child Well-Being Prior to Pandemic, But Hopes for Recovery Remain, Annie E. Casey Foundation Finds
NASHVILLE —Tennessee was performing well on high school graduation rate immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic but was falling short on percent children living in poverty according to the 2021 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report of recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzing how families have fared between the Great Recession and the COVID-19 crisis.
This year’s Data Book shows nearly a decade of progress could be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic unless policymakers act boldly to sustain the beginnings of a recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
Despite its low rankings nationally, over the last decade Tennessee has seen an improvement in child well-being. As the pandemic t is critical that Tennessee strengthens support for children to ensure positive trends continue.
“This is a pivotal time for Tennessee and we need to invest in our children in a strong, equitable and sustainable way,” said Richard Kennedy, executive director of Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, Tennessee’s member of the KIDS COUNT network.
The Data Book shows simply returning to a pre-pandemic level of support for children and families would shortchange millions of kids and fail to address persistent racial and ethnic disparities.
Sixteen indicators measuring four domains economic wellbeing, education, health, and family and community context are used by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in each year’s Data Book to assess child well-being. The annual KIDS COUNT data and rankings represent the most recent information available but do not capture the impact of the past year:
Survey data from the last year add to the story of Tennessee children and families in this moment:
“The COVID-19 pandemic is the most extraordinary crisis to hit families in decades,” said Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Deliberate policy decisions can help them recover, and we’re already seeing the beginnings of that. Policymakers should use this moment to repair the damage the pandemic has caused — and to address long-standing inequities it has exacerbated.”
Investing in children, families and communities is a priority to ensure an equitable and expansive recovery. Several of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s suggestions have already been enacted in the American Rescue Plan, and additional recommendations include:
The 2021 KIDS COUNT® Data Book is available from June 21 at www.aecf.org. Additional information is available atwww.aecf.org/databook. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about the Data Book can use the KIDS COUNT Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org.
The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is an independent state agency created by the Tennessee General Assembly. Its primary mission is to lead systems improvement for all children and families through data-driven advocacy, education and collaboration. Information on the agency is available at www.tn.gov/tccy.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.