By Mark Richardson, Texas News Service
DALLAS – A new report shows that one-quarter of Texas’ seven million children live in poverty, and that doesn’t bode well for either their future, or the future of the state. The annual State of Texas Children 2016 report, released by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, evaluates the health, education and financial security of kids in the Lone Star State.
Jennifer Lee, research associate with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said the main factors that affect the quality of children’s lives in Texas are where they live, the color of their skin and their family’s income.
“What we’re seeing over time is that, as housing prices change, as the geographies of our cities change, we’re seeing more low-income families who are restricted to certain neighborhoods,” she said. “And we’re seeing more kids living in those high-poverty neighborhoods.”
Lee said children of color face higher poverty rates in Texas, with about a third of all black and Latino kids living below the line. That compares with just 11 percent for both white and Asian children. She said because of that, minority children often face food insecurity and a lack of health insurance.
Lee said education also is a major issue, since black and Hispanic students are more likely to attend high-poverty school districts, which often have lesser-qualified teachers. She said that while the report found a few bright spots, the state needs to develop policies that provide a pathway out of poverty for its children.
“There are some things that have improved for kids, particularly in health insurance and in education when we look at our graduation rates, for example,” she added. “But then there are things that have been much harder to improve, for example, the child poverty rate or income levels.”
The report urges state officials to increase overall funding and funding equity for school districts, increase access to affordable health insurance, and to create partnerships among schools, workforce programs and businesses to bring people out of poverty.
The full report is available at here.