DALLAS, Nov 17, 2019 — Children’s Health℠, the eighth-largest pediatric health care provider in the nation and leading pediatric health care system in North Texas, released the 16th edition of Beyond ABC: Assessing the Well-Being of Children in North Texas, a comprehensive report on the quality of life for children in North Texas.
The biennial report examines four key areas that impact children in Dallas, Collin, Cooke, Denton, Fannin and Grayson counties, highlighting key trends and areas of improvement in each: pediatric health, economic security, safety and education.
Significant findings from the 2019 report show that despite meaningful progress, much work remains as we continue our mission to make life better for children, particularly as it relates to mental and behavioral health:
- An increased need for access to mental and behavioral health services
- An estimated 130,226 North Texas children suffer from an emotional disturbance or addictive disorder
- There was a 143% increase in Collin County children with a mental health diagnosis served by Medicaid Managed Care compared to 2017.
- 44% of youth incarcerated in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department system in 2018 had a moderate or severe mental health issue – more than double from three years earlier
- Higher rates of youth suicide and child mortality
- Dallas County saw adolescent suicides increase 27% in 2016
- Boys are four times more likely to die from suicide, although girls are more likely to attempt suicide
- Child mortality rate rose 29.9% in Collin County and 54.5% in Denton County in 2016
- A decrease in college-readiness and literacy rates
- In 2017, 37% of North Texas high school graduates were college-ready – down from 42% in 2016
- Fewer than half of North Texas third-graders can read at their grade level – presenting potential obstacles with their education moving forward
- Increased homelessness and poverty prevent children from accessing education and medical care
- 14.3% of Dallas County children have no health insurance coverage (higher than the statewide rate of 11%)
- 115,676 Texas students were homeless during the 2016-2017 school year, and LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to be homeless as their peers
- More than 450,000 North Texas children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch
“After reading this year’s report, one realization was stunningly clear to me – we must radically change how we support the behavioral health of our children,” said Chris Durovich, president and CEO of Children’s Health. “Caring for our community’s youth is a privilege we take seriously, and it has emboldened us to disavow the notion that any problem is too big, too complicated or too widespread. While we appreciate that transformational change will not happen overnight, we are confident that through a sustained effort by many, we can achieve an integrated behavioral health care system that serves every North Texas child.”
As in previous years, the 2019 Beyond ABC report was developed with input from an advisory board composed of representatives from key North Texas community organizations whose work influences pediatric health, economic security, safety and education. The advisory board provided real-world insights, ideas and solutions to provide context around the data in the 2019 report. The research staff at the Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas at Dallas then worked to gather the most consistent recent and historical data available for each of the six counties.
As the leading pediatric health system in North Texas, Children’s Health has produced Beyond ABC since 1996. Whereas previous versions of the report have been published annually and focused on Dallas County and the Northern Corridor in alternating years, the format was updated in 2015 to feature a single report covering six counties in the Children’s Health service area: Dallas, Collin, Cooke, Denton, Fannin and Grayson. Beyond ABC is now published every other year in mid-November.
To download the full report or order hard copies, visit www.childrens.com/beyondabc.