Children’s outcomes depend on investing in their caregivers

The Kids Count Data Book, which examines information on young people in Alabama since 1994, recently reported that Alabama ranks 47th in the nation for child well-being.

The report, which documents and tracks children’s health, education, safety and economic security, is used to advance policies for children.

“Okay, here’s a hot take: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, we know that health, education, security and economic well-being are all interconnected,” Collier Tynes said. , CEO of VOICES for Alabama Children. “If you didn’t know this before COVID, you know this now.”

“If you’ve looked closely at the data over the year, we know from the pandemic that many of these issues are not new, but from the pandemic we know that the issues have been exposed even more and exacerbated,” Tynes said. .

Shelby County was ranked the best county for children in Alabama out of 67. Tuscaloosa County was 28th, Etowah 38th, and Montgomery County 51st. Greene County was last in 67th place.

The legislative session passed a historic investment in funding for children this year, the statement said. The attached news release drew attention to the following: $17.8 million for child care programs; $22 million increase in First Class Pre-K; $1.5 million in funding for pilot summer and after-school programs; $20 million in the Alabama Numeracy Act; $10 million in funding for “underfunded/underperforming” schools in the form of flexible grants; $5 million in a youth mental health pilot program; $1 million increase in school mental health services and $4 million in postpartum health care pilot program.

After:Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signs education budget, amends literacy law

Tynes said there was still more to do. She explained that the data showing the well-being of Alabama’s children is not due to bad parents, caregivers or teachers. This is proof that parents, caregivers and teachers do not have enough support in the state of Alabama.

“The numbers we see in education are not outcomes and bad teachers, or bad parents, or bad caregivers,” Tynes said. “These are adult outcomes that need support and an evidence-based program.”

Lone-parent families are included in the report as a factor related to child well-being. Tynes clarified that she believes single parents are “nothing short of amazing” but single-parent families often have more financial and childcare burdens.

The report shows that about 24% of 4th graders are proficient in math and about half are proficient in reading. Tynes says literacy and numeracy laws should help.

Namely, she emphasized the part of the act of numeracy that leads to coaching. She believes that math coaches really benefit children.

Tynes also commented on the raises given to teachers this year in Alabama. Tynes applauded the passing, drawing attention to the fact that not only would it benefit children from an educational perspective, but it would also benefit children from the perspective that teachers are often parents.

“First of all, teachers, let’s look at their workforce: that’s a lot of moms,” Tynes said. “And, frankly, those teachers need child care for their own children.”

Going forward, Tynes says more support is always needed.

Tynes said she wants lawmakers to take away from the report that they made historic investments this year in children. However, she also wants them to remember that they need to do more.

Tynes says it’s important to look not just at the state as a whole, but also at the county level, because all of the variables are going to interact in different ways.

“One reason literacy rates are lower in Lowndes County could be very different from literacy rates being lower in Bullock County,” Tynes said.

“We need to look at the needs, strength, opportunities and challenges of each community before we can develop comprehensive statewide policies that don’t have as much of an impact as equitable and rural districts versus urban districts. compared to the black district. ”

Jemma Stephenson is a children’s and education reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser. She can be reached at [email protected] or 334-261-1569.

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