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Hamilton, Bradley rank in top half of Tennessee counties for child well-being

From NewsChannel 9: Bradley & Hamilton Counties in Tennessee rank high when it comes to the well-being of its children, according to an annual report.

 

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth in its 2023 County Profiles in Child Well-Being ranks each of the 95 county in the state in important areas affecting child development, such as economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

 

A news release states each profile provides an analysis of the county’s strengths and challenges, along with policy recommendations to improve outcomes.

 

Overall Hamilton County came in 41st place this year and Bradley 31s. Which places them in the top half of Tennessee’s counties.

 

The strongest area for Hamilton County was health, coming in at 29th and for Bradley it was education, coming in at 26th.

 

But affordable and safe housing Hamilton ranks 86th, Bradley 76th in the state shedding light on a problem many families face.

 

Bradley’s strongest indicator is in the percent of children living below the federal poverty line, where the county ranks 11th.

 

The county also performs well in the percent of students who scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in TCAP Reading at 36.1%.

 

The report shows that when it comes to child well-being, Hamilton County’s biggest challenge is the percent of households in the county experiencing a severe housing cost burden, with around 17% of the county’s children living in poverty.

 

J.C. Bowman with Professional Educators of Tennessee said everyday items can be taken for granted when it comes to preparing a child for success.

 

“Luxury items, like deodorant and things.. I mean simple things that we think about, sometimes these kids don’t have,” Bowman said. “That puts an extra burden on the parent to make, you know, cost of living, and to figure that out, and they’re struggling to do that.”

The report reveals that Hamilton County ranked 36th in the state representing 12.3-percent of children who are food insecure in the county. The previous rank was 30. In Bradley it was 33rd representing 11.9-percent of children who are food insecure in the county. The previous rank was 26.

 

Bowman believes a full plate is a key ingredient when it comes to a child’s well-being.

 

With the cost of living on the rise, food is something many families are struggling to afford.

 

“A lot of nutritious items that cost more,” Bowman said. “So I mean, if you got a choice between, you know, sugar filled cereal or granola or something, you’re going to take the cheap the cheaper thing.”

Bowman said having a nutritious meal is important for children to succeed both in and outside of the classroom.

 

Many students across the state get their meals from their school.

 

Other findings include that in 2021, more than 18% of children were living in poverty statewide, and a slight increase in uninsured children in the state was also noted.