KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee ranks 36th in overall child well-being, according to newly released data from Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The foundation has released its 2022 Kids Count Data Book, a 50-state report of recent household data analyzing how children and families are faring. The Data Book uses 16 indicators measuring four domains — economic well-being, education, health, and family and community context — to assess child well-being.

Despite low rankings nationally, Tennessee has seen a slight improvement in overall child well-being. The state’s strongest ranking is in Education, where Tennessee ranks at 25th. The foundation added that the state has improved more than average. In addition, the 2022 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) results indicate Tennessee continues to move in the right direction.

2020 432948 42
2021 30 29 39 40
Data from Annie E. Casey Foundation

Tennessee children’s health rank has deteriorated over the last decade going from 16 in 2012 to 41 in 2022. Tennessee led in insuring children at one time but is now at the median. According to the state, a focus on health services in schools could drive improvement.

“The Data Book shows simply returning to a pre-pandemic level of support for children and families would shortchange millions of kids and fail to address persistent geographic, racial and ethnic disparities,” said Richard Kennedy, executive director of Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, Tennessee’s member of the KIDS COUNT network.

This year’s report focuses on youth mental health as a recent assessment by the U.S. surgeon general shows children in the United State are in the midst of a mental health crisis. In Tennessee, nearly one in 10 children are diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Between 2016 and 2020, the Data Book reports children across the US aged 3-17 were 26% more likely to encounter anxiety or depression. This increase represents 1.5 million more children who are struggling with mental health.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health in a child’s ability to thrive,” said Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “As our nation continues to navigate the fallout from the COVID crisis, policymakers must do more to ensure all kids have access to the care and support they need to cope and live full lives.”

To see a full breakdown of the Kids Count report for Tennessee, click here.