Tennessee’s child and family programs receive huge shares of their funding from the federal government, but the state still misses out on some competitive grants, reports the Tennessean. Whether short-staffed, pressed for time or unable to drum up matching state dollars, Tennessee’s government grant writers encounter many hurdles to pulling in more federal funds that could help families, according to the report by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. (Link HERE)
Still, the state spent $3.9 billion in federal dollars on kids and families last fiscal year, and more than $9 billion overall. The report did not attempt to quantify the lost opportunities.
“The departments are fairly aggressive about (grants) that meet their main mission, but because we are a fairly lean government, we don’t have additional staffing and time to branch into other areas,” said Linda O’Neal, commission executive director. “There are opportunities that they see from time to time that they think are good ideas but realize just aren’t practical.”
The commission wants to examine how best to fund programs and reduce waste, so the analysis captures spending on everything from education and health care to arts and reading programs.
“There’s always this perception that there’s this huge duplication of services in government,” O’Neal said. “Through this process, we have not been able to identify substantial duplication.”
The 18-page-report describes Tennessee as “heavily reliant” on federal funds, with more than 90 percent of child spending built on federal dollars or state matching dollars required for federal grants.
“We’re very reliant on federal funds. All states are,” O’Neal said. “We may be more reliant than some.”
By Travis Lollar, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For years, Tennessee history buff Bill Carey has been concerned about the lack of state history in the schools. Now he is seizing what he thinks is the best opportunity in decades to reverse that trend.
Carey is taking advantage of the state’s adoption of the Common Core standards that require English and reading teachers to make use of more nonfiction.
His nonprofit, Tennessee History for Kids, has created two booklets for use in those classes. One is for elementary and middle school children and is composed mostly of historical essays written by Carey with titles like “David Crockett loses his pants.”
“That’s the first one my kids wanted to read,” said Teresa Calhoun, who recently purchased a set of the booklets for her classroom. The fourth grade teacher at Indian Springs Elementary School in Kingsport said the booklets use stories to tell history.
“That makes it fun and interesting,” she said. It’s not like a regular textbook.”
Tennessee History for Kids (which adults can read, too) has a new section on Tennessee geography. Included are “eight things about Tennessee geography that will surprise you, such as:”
* South Carolina is west of Tennessee
* Tennessee has more caves than any other state
* Elevation-wise, Knoxville is lower than Cookeville
* Memphis is much closer to Dallas than it is to Mountain City.
Direct link to the “eight things” is HERE.
When it comes to the “Overall Well-Being” of its children, Tennessee can say it’s moved up among the states, reports the News Sentinel. Last year, Tennessee ranked No. 39 in the Annie E. Casey KIDS COUNT National Data Book. This year, it’s No. 36 — higher than most other Southern states.
Did life improve for Tennessee children? Yes, in some ways.
But the nonprofit foundation also changed the way it ranks states. This year’s rankings center around four main categories: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health and Family and Community. In each category, the state looked at four “key indicators.”
It was in the Health category that Tennessee scored highest, ranking No. 16 among all states and driving up its overall ranking. Tennessee showed improvement in each of the four indicators, including a modest (3 percent) drop in low-birthweight babies but notable improvements in the number of teens reportedly abusing alcohol and drugs (5 percent, compared to 8 percent in 2005-2006) and the number of child and teen deaths (18 percent fewer, though still higher than the national average).
In addition, the number of children without health insurance decreased by 29 percent, to a number lower than the national average.
— Note: the Kids Count Data Book is available HERE.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Children’s advocates say a report released Wednesday on the welfare of children in Tennessee supports their belief that more preventive care programs will benefit youth long term, as well as save the state money.
The Kids Count report, partially funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, focused on children’s well-being, but also examined how the state spends funds to improve the lives of children.
Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, said universal prevention services have the lowest per child cost and the greatest cost-benefit potential because of their ability to prevent downstream costs.
However, they received the least funding, according to the report compiled by the commission.
One in every eight Tennessee children is growing up in a high poverty community, according to data snapshot released this week by the Annie E. Casey Kids Count project.
More from the News Sentinel: “The concern is there are reduced opportunities they have to be successful in school and in life,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.
….The report — which highlights newly available national, state, and city data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey — found that one-fourth of Tennessee children live in poverty.
The snapshot indicates how high-poverty communities are harmful to children, outlines regions in which concentrated poverty has grown the most, and offers recommendations to address these issues.
O’Neal said her agency is familiar with the numbers but was surprised to see that the number of children in concentrated poverty areas had doubled since 2000.
From 2006 to 2010, about 200,000 Tennessee children lived in concentrated poverty areas, or communities where 30 percent or more of the children live in poverty.
O’Neal said she believes that is because of the effect of the recent recession and the state’s high unemployment rate.
One of the things that sets Tennessee apart from other states, she said, is its poverty is in both urban and rural areas of the state, from Memphis and Nashville to the Appalachian community
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, in its National Kids Count Data Book released today, ranked Tennessee 39th in the nation for the overall well being of children.
From the News Sentinel account: According to the report, since 2000 Tennessee has decreased its infant mortality rate by 9 percent (although, at 8 deaths per 1,000 live births, it’s still higher than the national rate of 6). It’s decreased the death rate of children ages 1-14 by 29 percent (putting it almost on par with the national rate) and the teen death rate by 7 percent (still, at 84 per 100,000, higher than the national rate of 62). Accidents, homicide and suicide are the leading causes of teen deaths.
Though the percentage of low birth weight babies remained unchanged (and still 10 percent higher than the national average), the state teen birthrate, 56 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19, has decreased by 5 percent (the national rate is 41). Despite improving, Tennessee still ranks in the bottom 40 states in most of those categories.
The percentage of children living in poverty, defined by the foundation as $21,756 or less annually for a family of four, went up in Tennessee and nationally. Almost a quarter of Tennessee’s children live in poverty, the report said, a 20 percent increase over the 2000 statistics.
In addition, the percentage of Tennessee children living in single-parent families — 36 percent — jumped nearly 10 percent since the 2000 report. This year’s report also noted 35 percent of Tennessee children live in families where no parent has full-time year-round employment, compared to 31 percent nationally. In 2010, 11 percent of children had at least one unemployed parent.
Links: the main kids count webpage HERE, the Tennessee information webpage HERE.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam today began a month-long statewide reading tour to promote improving literacy rates.
The tour kicks off a year-long partnership with ten Tennessee schools located across the state to improve local reading proficiency levels.
Haslam will work to help each of the ten schools with specific needs or struggles they might face will promote early reading initiatives and programs available to students in their communities.