Report ranks Texas 45th among U.S. states for child wellbeing, cites health and family issues

Texas had a higher percentage of uninsured kids than any other state, and its total of 829,000 uninsured children accounted for one in five of the nationwide total.

click to enlarge Schoolchildren engage in a San Antonio Food Bank educational program. A new report urges policymakers to make sure kids' basic needs, including nutrition and stable housing, are being met. - Megan Rodriguez
Megan Rodriguez
Schoolchildren engage in a San Antonio Food Bank educational program. A new report urges policymakers to make sure kids' basic needs, including nutrition and stable housing, are being met.
In addition to dealing with the metal and emotional fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas kids face poor health and family support, according to a new report that ranks the state 45th in the nation for child wellbeing.

Released this week, the 2022 Kids Count Data Book highlights worrying trends facing Texas kids, including a 23% increase from 2016 to 2020 in the number with anxiety or depression. The annual analysis from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that roughly one in 10 children nationwide struggled with those afflictions during the first year of the pandemic.

“Men­tal health is just as impor­tant as phys­i­cal health in a child’s abil­i­ty to thrive,” Casey Foundation CEO Lisa Hamilton said in a statement. “As our nation con­tin­ues to nav­i­gate the fall­out from the COVID-19 cri­sis, pol­i­cy­mak­ers must do more to ensure all kids have access to the care and sup­port they need to cope and live full lives.”

The mental and emotional health challenges come as many Texas children grapple with obstacles such as poverty and access to basic healthcare, according to the report.

The Lone Star State's abysmal ranking for child wellbeing stems from its bad or mediocre performance in four separate areas: economic wellbeing, education, health and family and community. Texas landed in the bottom half of states in all four categories, according to the report.

Texas' worst performance was in health, where it ranked 48th. It had a higher percentage of uninsured kids — 11% — than any other state. Indeed, the state's total of 829,000 uninsured children accounted for one in five of the total nationwide.

When it comes to family and community, Texas landed at No. 47. A total of 18% of children here live in households where the head doesn't hold a high school diploma — the highest rate in the nation. What's more, the state's rate of 22 teen births per 1,000 is among the country's worst.

The Lone Star State ranked just 33rd in education and 37th in economic wellbeing, according to the analysis. 

The authors of the Kids Count Data Book urged federal, state and local policymakers to prioritize meeting children's basic needs, including nutrition and stable housing, while bolstering mental health access.

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