Tennessee ranks 49th in services for young children

Published 1:45 pm Thursday, October 19, 2023

The Center Square

Tennessee ranked 49th amongst the states and District of Columbia in the amount of resources available for those ages 0 to 3, according to a new report.

Tennessee working parents have $26,513 available, ahead of 51st ranked Georgia at $20,500, in the research done by Vanderbilt University’s Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center.

Each state was ranked on its level of services in 12 areas of state investment.

Tennessee is one of 11 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act but it has expanded coverage for lower income adults and did begin a Family Medical Leave Act program July 1.

Tennessee’s minimum wage remains at the federal level of $7.25 while 10 states have those set at $10 per hour or higher. Tennessee is not one of 22 states with a refundable state earned income tax credit.

“A state’s policy choices do not operate in isolation from one another. Instead, they interact to create a system of support of varying generosity for parents and children,” the policy paper said. “Tax credits and near-cash supports, such as SNAP, provide valuable resources to families. However, state minimum wage, paid family leave, and child subsidy policies are significant drivers of the variation across states in the amount of resources a working parent has available to support their family.”

Tennessee was noted for not providing state support for Early Head Start, does not use Medicaid to provide an evidence-based home visiting program to promote parenting and does not cover and reimburse community-based doula services or grants/scholarships for doula training.

Tennessee families do not have access to Medicaid funding for comprehensive screening and connection programs and it does not have a 12-month certification for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program services.

The policy paper notes each of the 12 highlighted categories have influence on the well-being for those ages 0-3.

“Comprehensive reviews of the most rigorous evidence available identified four state-level policies and eight strategies that positively impact at least one of these PN-3 policy goals,” the paper said. “The 12 effective solutions are profiled in this Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap. When combined, the policies and strategies create a system of care that provides broad-based economic and family supports, as well as targeted interventions to address identified needs.”