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Annual State of the Child report released

The 2023 State of the Child report has been released by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

Demographics from the report found 31% of Tennessee’s children are under 6, 33% are aged 6 to 11, and 35% are 12 to 17. Compared to a decade before, there has been a decline in the percentage of children under 6 in the state. 

Of the state’s children, more than 8 in 10 attend a public school, 1 in 4 live in a household receiving some type of public assistance, 36% live in rental housing, 1 in 10 live with a grandparent rather than parents and 5% have a disability.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Child poverty has declined in the past decade overall, but remains above the national average while child poverty for children under five increased over the past year.
  • Food is the most common expense Tennessee families use their child tax credit on at 67%
  • Rising costs are having a negative impact on household expenses for families which children as wages and federal poverty guidelines remain stagnant.
  • Approximately 1,145 Tennessee children were homeless in 2023.
  • There were only nine child care centers per 1,000 children in Tennessee.
  • Childcare costs increased by an estimated $1,253 to an average of $8,335 per year for non-school age children.
  • TCAP scores continue to rise with students showing improvement from pandemic learning loss
  • 1 in 6 Tennessee children have a chronic illness or disability diagnosis with ADHD being the most common
  • School nurses conducted more than 1.3 million health screenings during the 2022-3 school year
  • 42.8% of students are overweight with the amount of students active for at least an hour a day decreasing by 15%
  • 5.3% of Tennessee children have no health insurance though they are financially eligible for programs like TennCare\
  • The infant mortality and maternal mortality rate both increased over the previous year
  • Inhalants were the most common substance abused by teens followed by ecstasy, cocaine, meth, and heroin
  • Parental drug abuse was the most common reason a child was entered into the foster care system (36%) followed by neglect (35%)
  • 57% of children in foster care were eventually reunified with their family
  • There were 111 child victims of human trafficking in the state, 94% of whom were girls.
  • Youth crime has trended downward over the past decade, though increased slightly last year toward prepandemic levels
  • The amount of gun crimes committed against children have increased 133.2% over the past year with handguns being the most commonly used weapon in youth-related crimes.