A new study finds that in Tarrant County, many children 3 and younger face big challenges – and that’s in large part due to poverty.
The infant mortality rate is higher in Tarrant County than the rest of state. Six percent of infants born in the county in 2013 were born to a mother who had no prenatal care. And low-income parents struggle finding high-quality childcare that’s affordable.
Kara Waddell is the CEO of Child Care Associates. She talked with KERA about her organization’s report on the health of kids in Tarrant County.
...on what the study found: "Young children are facing obstacles that previous generations did not face. The age at which a person is most likely to be homeless in Tarrant County — if we closed our eyes and imagined that face, we'd think of an adult. But the age is actually infancy, and the next most likely age being toddlerhood. It's just a very different landscape than what we may have faced growing up."
...on why there's a gap in the quality of infant and toddler care: "Well, first of all young families today pay more for child care than they will pay when their child grows up and attends a public university. Child care is a huge challenge for parents.
"Frankly, one adult can only take care of so many infants or toddlers, and so the cost goes up. One of the challenges that we are realizing is that we've done a great job of having excellent, high-quality classrooms developing for 4 year olds, but what do we do for those that are a little bit younger...We're putting out the rally cry to say that cities and counties are developing economic development plans, their neighborhood revitalization plans — they need to include infants and toddlers in those plans."
... on what can be done to help kids in Tarrant county: "We do really want to see an increase in health care for young children and a developmental screening tool. [With] young children, we can catch a lot of the challenges that they're going to face later if we use very simple free tools that even parents can use to identify what's happening and where there may be a developmental delay."
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Explore the full report below.