Health
4:46 pm
Tue January 25, 2011

New Study Says Conditions For Texas Children Trail National Average

With dramatic spending cuts to Texas' limited social services network expected in the upcoming state budget, a new report from an Austin non-profit suggests Texas children are already struggling compared to their United States counterparts.

Texans Care For Children released A Report On The Bottom Line: Conditions For Children and the Texas of Tomorrow this morning.  Using data from the US Census Bureau, the Texas State Data Center, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, among others, Texans Care For Children compares our kids with the national average.

They report that Texas children are 35 percent more likely to grow up poor, 28 percent more likely to be obese, 51 percent more likely to be a teen mom, 33 percent more likely not to receive mental health care services, and 83 percent more likely to be born to a mother who received little or no pre-natal care.

Steve Murdock, a former demographer for the state and current professor of sociology at Rice University, points to this Texas Education Agency report as evidence of the growth of low income kids.

The TEA report shows a 40 percent increase in economically disadvantaged children enrolled in Texas public schools over the ten year period from the 1998-99 school year to the 2008-09 school year. The total population of students grew only 20 percent in the same time frame.

"This means we've got a lot of very poor kids with all the issues that come with poverty and economic disadvantage," Murdock told KUT News.

Murdock says data indicates about 54 percent of Texas population growth over the last decade is mostly coming from "natural increase" - the excess of births over deaths. Another 21 percent came from domestic migration, people from other states moving to Texas. The remaining 25 percent came from international migration, he said.  

Child advocates in Texas fear that state budget cuts will result in harm for low income children. KUT reported last week on how some non-profit organizations that receive state money are already downsizing their operations.