The well-being of Tennessee children has improved in many areas in the last 30 years, according to information in the Kids Count Data Book released recently.
Tennessee’s overall ranking in the 2019 report is 36th out of all 50 states.
Data from 2017, the most recent year available, is compared to data from 2010 to look at trends over time.
Tennessee’s highest rank is in the economic well-being domain at 32nd, and its lowest rank is for family and community context at 39th.
The state ranked 33rd in the education domain, with 90 percent of Tennessee high school students graduating on time in 2017, the second-highest rate in the country.
However, the state had one of the lowest rates of young children attending Pre-K programs, with over 60 percent not enrolled in any early childhood education.
Tennessee struggled with health issues in 2017 and fell six spots in the rankings to 33rd.
Low birth weight continues to be a challenge, with 9.2 percent of babies born at a low birth weight, higher than the national average of 8.3 percent, and one of the 10 highest rates in the country.
The state’s ranking was also negatively affected by an increase in child and teen deaths driven by increases in suicide and homicide deaths, 60 percent of which involved firearms.
The state improved slightly in the economic well-being domain, moving from 33rd to 32nd.
Poverty continues to be a problem for the state, with one in five children living in poverty. However, the state has seen a 19 percent decline of children living in poverty and a 30 percent increase of teens in school or working since 2010.
The state has also shown progress in its lowest-ranking domain, family and community context, though the progress in some areas continues to fall behind the national average.
Tennessee’s teen birth rate dropped from 43 per 1,000 in 2010 to 27 per 1,000 in 2017; however, rates in other states decreased at a faster rate, leaving Tennessee ranked 41st. Tennessee is ranked at 12th for neonatal abstinence syndrome per 1,000 live births.
The state ranks near the center for children living in a home where no parent has a high school diploma, though Tennessee has seen slight improvements on this indicator over the past few years as initiatives like the Drive to 55, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect continue.
How Franklin County ranks
Franklin County’s overall index ranking of 51st out of all 95 counties in Tennessee puts it in the bottom half of Tennessee counties in terms of child well-being.
The county’s highest ranking reflects a relatively low rate of children who live in poverty.
Though it is still a higher number than one would hope, Franklin County’s 20.6 percent child poverty rate is better than most counties in Tennessee.
Franklin County also has high rankings from a high median household income and from a relatively low rate of pregnancy among girls ages 15 to 17.
Franklin County’s biggest challenges are a high rate of child and teen deaths and a low percentage of third to eighth grade students rated as proficient in math on TNReady tests.
An additional strength is low housing costs.
Additional opportunities for improvement include relatively high rates of babies born at a low birth weight and a low high school graduation rate.
Race / ethnicity
Franklin County’s child population by race is 91.9 percent white; 6.4 percent black including Hispanic; 0.4 percent Native American/Alaskan; and 1.2 percent Asian/Pacific islander.
Franklin County ranks sixth in the state for economic well-being.
The child poverty rate was 20.60 percent, ranked 18th; median household income is $47,562, ranked 21st; personal income is $36,366 per capita for a state rank of 35th; and fair market rent is $808, ranked 39th.
The rate of children receiving Families First grants is 4.5 percent for a rank of 69th, while 23.9 percent of children receive SNAP for a rank of seventh.
Family and community
Franklin County’s family and community overall ranking is 28th.
The school suspension rate is 3.90 percent, ranking it 59th.
The teen pregnancy rate is 7.9 per 1,000, for a ranking of 21st.
The substantiated abuse and neglect rate is 5.4 per 1,000, ranking 43rd.
Franklin County ranked 36th in the family and community category with 452 reported cases of child abuse.
Recorded marriages per 1,000 residents is 355, for a ranking of 14th.
Recorded divorces per 1,000 residents is 142 for a rank of 26th.
The rate of births to unmarried females is 43.8 percent for a rank of 48th.
Franklin County ranks 69th in the state in education with third to eighth grade reading proficiency ranked 65th at 28.70 percent; third to eighth grade math proficiency is ranked at 72nd or 30.30 percent while the high school graduation rate is 90.90 percent, ranked 68th.
School age children receiving special education services is 13.6 percent, ranking 62nd.
The rate of cohort high school dropouts is 4.9 percent for a rank of 69th.
The number of economically disadvantaged students in Franklin County is 1,734 or 32 percent, ranking 34th in the state.
School expulsions per 1,000 students in Franklin County is zero, putting it in the number one spot.
Chronic absenteeism is 15.1 percent for a rank of 43rd.
Franklin County’s overall health ranking is 81st.
The rate of public school students in Franklin County who measured as overweight or obese is 33.7 percent, ranking near the top at 5th of 95 counties.
The rate of child and teen deaths of 48.5 per 100,000 ranks Franklin County near the bottom at 83rd.
Franklin County has 4,751 children on TennCare for a ranking of 9th.
The total number of TennCare enrollees places Franklin County in 13th place.
Infant mortality per 1,000 live births ranks near the bottom at 80th.
The rate of child deaths per 100,000 children ages 1-14 ranks Franklin County at 90th.
Franklin County’s adequate prenatal care ranking is 80th.