11:56am

Thu June 7, 2012
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Report Paints a Bleak Portrait of Tenn. Children

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth released its annual look at the welfare of the state’s children earlier this week and the news is grim.

The report is based on data from 2009, the most recent information available. It shows that more than 350,000 Tennessee children, or nearly one-child-in-four, lives below the poverty line.

Here in the Mid-State, Bedford and Davidson counties have the worst child poverty rates, both above 25 percent.  Rutherford County’s rate is well above 15 percent. Williamson County has by far the region’s lowest rate at just over six percent.

Linda O'Neal is the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth’ Executive Director.

“We’ve seen substantial increases in the number of children who participate in programs like TennCare and Families First, WICK, and Free and Reduced Price Lunch, and food stamps. It really highlights how important these supports are to ensure children have adequate nutrition for healthy brain development.”

O'Neal says the report also highlights the importance of providing preventive health services to the state’s at-risk children, but she also notes that Tennessee provides little funding for preventative care.