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Carter County ranks in bottom half of state’s counties in child well-being

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth has released its County Profiles of Child Well-Being in Tennessee, reporting that Carter County at 63rd is in the bottom half of Tennessee counties in child well-being.
Some of the county’s strongest rankings include that it has a below average rate of children lacking health insurance and a relatively high percent of third to eighth grade children rated proficient in reading and math on TNReady tests.
The county’s highest challenges are a high rate of substantiated cases of abuse or neglect and a low high school graduation rate.
Additional strengths include low housing costs and a below-average rate of babies born at poverty and below-poverty median household income.
Carter County was ranked 36th in the state at 8.1 percent for low birth-weight babies.
The profiles include substantial county-level data and county ranks in important areas affecting child development: economic well-being, education, health and family, and community. The profiles also list county measures on 39 indicators.
Key indicators include:
 • Tennessee has an average of one in five children living in poverty. The child poverty rate in Carter County was 29.4 percent, ranking the county 81st in the state. The lowest percentage is in Williamson County (3.6 percent) and the highest percentage is in Lake County (41.2 percent).
• One in three third through eighth grade students in Tennessee rated proficient on TNReady Reading Tests. Carter County ranked 22nd in the state with a 35.6 percent reading proficiency. The math proficiency rate was 42.5 percent, ranking the county at 29th in the state. The high school graduating rate is 88.8 percent, ranking it 86th in the state.
• Across Tennessee 5.1 children were uninsured. Carter County was ranked at 29th in the state with 4.9 percent children without health insurance. The lowest percentage of children lacking health insurance was 3.7 percent in Williamson County. The highest percentage was in Warren County at 7.9 percent. This is the second statewide increase in the percentage of children who lack health insurance after this rate reached an historic low of 3.7 percent in 2016.
• Tennessee had a 4.7 substantiated cases of abuse or neglect per 1,000 children. Carter County’s rate was 8.7 percent, ranking it 87th in the state. Cocke County had the highest rate at 12.1 and Williamson County had the lowest at 0.9 percent.
• Carter County’s median household income was ranked at 79th in the state at $39,202 and fair market rent was listed at $843, putting it at 33rd in Tennessee.
• The teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 in the county was 1,000 ranking it at 37th in the state, and the school suspension rate was 3.8 percent, placing it at 61st in Tennessee.
The report showed Carter County with a population of 56,345 of which 10,231 are under 18 years of age. Youth employment in the county was ranked at 7.4 percent. Other data showed 228 children receiving Families First Grants; 3,513 children receiving SNAP (food stamps); and 1,101 children under five receiving WIC.
According to the report of the 12,229 Medicaid enrollees in the county, 6,501 are children.
The report specifically mentioned that Carter County with a high rate of child poverty and a relatively low median household income, improving outreach to those who may qualify to receive SNAP, WIC, and TennCare benefits to be sure they are aware of these services can help ensure basic needs are met. Additionally, nutrition programs that provide food for school-age children to take home can contribute to food security. “Expanding services through Family Resource Centers can also help these vulnerable populations,” the report stated.