More than 83,000 Tennessee children were brought to juvenile court and nearly 7,400 were committed to state custody in 2006. Those numbers are the focus of KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child in Tennessee 2008 report being released Tuesday by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.
The annual report provides county-by-county data on 40 indicators of children’s well-being that are used to help determine the state’s policy priorities — including figures on health, education, child welfare, economic and demographic indicators — by making recommendations for child welfare and juvenile justice programs.
The data follows the July release of the national KIDS COUNT report, where Tennessee ranked 46th among states for child well-being. Among current recommendations offered in the latest report are:
· Expand the availability of substance abuse treatment and mental health services for children and their families.
Ninety-one percent of children entering the juvenile justice system in 2007 had a child behavioral problem and 4.2 percent had a substance abuse problem, according to the report.
· Improve transition planning for all children for changes in placement, educational services and transition to independence.
· Provide effective screening and diversion programs as alternatives to detention and state custody.
“Effective screening and diversion programs as alternatives to detention and state custody ensure scarce and expensive resources are focused on children who most need them,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the TCCY, in a statement.
Representatives from TCCY and the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services will discuss the report and its recommendations at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Old Supreme Court Room of the State Capitol.
More information is available at www.tennessee.gov/tccy.
The KIDS COUNT program is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which is devoted exclusively to improving outcomes for disadvantaged children.