More than 1 in 4 Texas children live in poverty according to a new study released on July 22nd, which ranks the state in 43rd place for the overall well being of children; the lack of job opportunities, access to health care and early education are all prominent factors.
Conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the 2014 Kids Count Data reveals that 19 percent of Texas children are living in high-poverty neighborhoods and 30 percent of children’s parents do not have a secure job. The state ranked 40th in providing healthcare access to kids while failing to set up market exchanges for the Affordable Care Act or expand Medicaid to the extent allowed by the federal government.
Texas overall, has the highest number of uninsured people- a figure which stands to get worse following the Tuesday Supreme Court ruling which made it unlawful for the federal government to provide subsidies on insurance, making it a responsibility of the state. Between Florida and Texas combined, more than 1.5 million stand to be affected if that Supreme Court ruling is upheld.
In terms of education, the Kids Count study reported 59 percent of Texas children were not enrolled in pre-school. Pre-school programs are important in low-income neighborhoods. Studies have shown children from low-income families enter kindergarten at an education level that is at least 4-6 months behind that of their wealthier peers. A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has added more weight to the importance of pre-school education by suggesting children can also be taught emotional response skills that, if learned at a young age, might help enhance their ability to learn in the future. Texas education in older grades also suffered. Data reveals 72 percent of 4th grade students were not at proficient reading levels, 62 percent of eighth graders were not proficient in math, and 18 percent of high school students did not graduate on time.
All of these issues relate directly to the neglect and abuse of children. Parents who do not have an education have a harder time finding work and making a livable income. Low incomes make it impossible to afford insurance and manage health needs. The inaccessibility to pre-school programs makes it difficult for single parents to work and still care for younger kids. As a result, both parents and children who fall in a low-income bracket suffer from abnormally high stress levels. High stress levels increase the likelihood that abuse will occur. Or for parents suffering from addiction, inaccessibility to health insurance creates a situation where parents can’t seek help.