CHILDREN AT RISK paints a picture of ‘Growing Up in Houston’

Did you know that one in three children in Houston lives in poverty? Each year, CHILDREN AT RISK produces “Growing Up in Houston: Assessing the Quality of Life of Our Children,” releasing its 15th edition in 2019. Introducing the report, President & CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK, Dr. Robert Sanborn, explains; “The goal of the publication is to provide stakeholders in our children’s future with a tool to help identify the most strategic and pressing areas for intervention, chart new paths to move Houston forward and track progress over time.”

CHILDREN AT RISK is a non-partisan research and advocacy organization, working to address the root causes of poor public policies affecting children. A statewide organization, they have been advocating to improve the quality of life for children through research, education, collaboration, public policy analysis and advocacy for over 30 years. Houston is home to 2 million children, representing nearly a quarter of all Texas children.

Growing Up In Houston celebrates the progress that has been made and outlines the many challenges that are facing children in our community, drawing particular attention to the high levels of poverty. Last fall at Houston Furniture Bank’s ‘No Kids on the Floor’ Breakfast, Anna Hardway, Chief Program Officer at Children at Risk, spoke movingly about the effects of “toxic stress” on low-income families. Hardaway spoke in support of the ‘No Kids on the Floor’ initiative, which works to provide a comfortable place to sleep for children. “Something as simple as providing a safe place to sleep, a safe place to go, a place when everything else is stressing a child out, they can lay their head – it’s theirs, they can call it theirs, they can go there every night, it’s so important, it’s not to be taken lightly,” she said.

Growing Up In Houston is an incredible resource for anyone looking to inform themselves about issues facing children. We took some time to read over the report and highlight some of the information that we found most striking. Please have a look and be sure to check out the full report HERE.

Growing Up in Houston: Did you know?

POVERTY

  • Of all Texas metropolitan cities, Houston has the highest poverty rate. One in three Houston children lives in poverty. One in five Texas children lives in poverty, compared to Houston where one in three lives in poverty.
  • Economic inequality is an obstacle that widely affects Harris County’s children, as 50% are in low-income households.
  • 35% of Houston families qualify as low-income working families.

EDUCATION

  • During the first three years of life, children’s brains develop more than one million new neural connections every second, and quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) has lasting positive impacts on children: higher early academic skills, lower rates of special education placements in school, higher high school graduation rates, and lower rates of externalizing behaviors such as aggression and cheating.
  • Experts estimate that quality learning programs in a child’s earliest years can generate benefits through their lifetime of over $7 for every $1 spent and that these effects are especially powerful for low-income children.

HEALTH

  • The mental health of children plays an important role in their overall physical health, as well as their likelihood to succeed in school, work, and society and unfortunately, the mental health and wellness of children can be threatened by a variety of negative or traumatic experiences.
  • A healthy child is one who is vibrant, attending school, receiving well-visit checks, and able to manage any chronic illness. Children who are healthy are better learners, have improved educational outcomes, and can access additional future economic opportunities.
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