Tennessee County Profiles Provide Benchmark For Child Well-Being In Pandemic Recovery

NASHVILLE, TN — Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth has released its County Profiles of Child Well-Being in Tennessee. The profiles include substantial county-level data and county ranks in important areas affecting child development: economic well-being, education, health and family, and community. The profiles also list county measures on 38 indicators.

The information reported in the profiles is based on data gathered prior to the pandemic. Although much has changed throughout 2020, the profiles provide an important benchmark for pandemic recovery for the state. The data provide a snapshot from 2018, or 2018-19 for school and fiscal year data. Some indicators show substantial volatility year to year, especially in rural counties with fewer people where small changes in actual numbers of events can cause large changes in rates.

Key indicators include:

Tennessee has an average of one in five children living in poverty. The lowest percentage is in Williamson County (3.6 percent) and the highest percentage is in Lake County (41.2 percent).

One in three 3rd-8th grade students in Tennessee rated proficient on TNReady Reading tests. In Haywood County, fewer than one out of every five students rated proficient compared to Williamson County, where more than three out of every five students rated proficient.

Across Tennessee 5.1 percent of children were uninsured. The lowest percentage of children lacking health insurance was 3.7 percent in Williamson county. The highest percentage was in Warren County at 7.9 percent. This is the second statewide increase in the percentage of children who lack health insurance after this rate reached an historic low of 3.7 percent in 2016.

Tennessee had 4.7 substantiated cases of abuse or neglect per 1,000 children. Cocke county had the highest rate at 12.1 and Williamson county had the lowest at 0.9.

“As we move forward in addressing the systemic issues highlighted by this pandemic, it is crucial to have a clear picture of where we are coming from,” said Richard Kennedy executive director of Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. “These county profiles provide us with key information to understand how Tennessee children were faring before the pandemic.”

The counties ranked in the top 10 are Williamson, Wilson, Trousdale, Chester, Sumner, Washington, Tipton, Rutherford, Blount, and Moore. The counties with the greatest opportunities for improvement are Lake, Hardeman, Shelby, Davidson, Madison, Hancock, Grundy, Union, Warren, and Cannon.