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Study: Texas Kids Face Major Social, Economic Challenges

A new report shows that children of color comprise 68 percent of the 7.3 million kids in Texas. (Arcurs/GettyImages)
A new report shows that children of color comprise 68 percent of the 7.3 million kids in Texas. (Arcurs/GettyImages)

January 11, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas -- A new report on the "State of America's Children" shows that large numbers of kids living in Texas confront poverty, homelessness, hunger and violence in their daily lives.

The report by the Children's Defense Fund found that in Texas, children face major challenges: 1-in-5 live in poverty, 110,000 are homeless, a majority can't read at grade level, and almost 1 million are either without health insurance or face losing coverage.

Patrick Bresette, director of the Children's Defense Fund-Texas, said the state's leaders urgently need to address these problems.

"The conditions facing kids here have a disproportionate impact on these numbers,” Bresette said. “And we continue to have some of the highest levels of child poverty in the country, high levels of children without health insurance, and those are things that are easily fixable if we just invested in the right programs."

The annual report provides a statistical look at the condition of children in America, with numbers broken out in each state.

The report found that in Texas, 68 percent of the state's 7.3 million kids are children of color - 61 percent are either black or Hispanic. It also examined flaws with the state's education system, child protective services, juvenile-justice system and gun-safety laws.

Bresette said despite having great wealth, Texas and the nation consistently lag behind other industrialized countries in investing in children.

"We've seen a really dramatic under-funding of the Medicaid program that's problematic. We need to rebuild our early-childhood intervention system,” he said. "The opportunity for Texas to make some decisions to basically improve these numbers is going to be between now and the next legislative session and in the kind of proposals we have to see brought forward."

He said Texas children face even greater problems if Congress does not reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"It's more than 100 days now that this program has gone without a full reauthorization. States are once again worrying about running out of money,” Bresette said. "Texas, we hope, has money for the program through February. But it's just time to get this thing fixed. There's really no reason that this has been delayed so long."

The report, out this week, examined other areas such as income and wealth inequality, housing and homelessness, food insecurity, education, and juvenile justice.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - TX