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Why Texas’ poor job of caring for kids makes it critical to get the 2020 census right

July 5, 2018
Dallas Morning News

Texas prides itself on a robust economy and thriving communities — but too often the state does a poor job of taking care of its youngest citizens.

The just-released 2018 Kids Count Data Book by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Texas 43rd in overall child well-being, making it one of the 10 worst states for kids.

Though there were a few improvements in the report — more Texas kids being insured and fewer living in poverty — those gains didn’t keep children in the state from being among the poorest (37th) or near the very bottom in percentage without health insurance (48th). The numbers were little better in education, with the state ranked 32nd.

Among the messages that the report drives home is the critical need for elected officials and community leaders to work doubletime to ensure an accurate 2020 census, especially when it comes to children. That count is used for divvying up $600 billion in federal spending on everything from Medicaid and housing to education and food programs.

No count is perfect, an estimated 1 million children nationally were missed in 2010, and Texas has traditionally had some of the hardest areas to count. So advocates and researchers are sounding the alarm that this count could be even worse.