Children’s Health Releases 15th Edition of Beyond ABC, a Comprehensive Report Assessing the Quality of Life for Children in North Texas

Six-county report reveals progress and areas of need regarding
children’s access to health care, behavioral health, nutritious foods,
poverty, quality early education and more


today released the 15th edition of Beyond ABC: Assessing
the Well-Being of Children in North Texas
, a 98-page report
examining the quality of life for children in Dallas, Collin, Cooke,
Denton, Fannin and Grayson counties.

Produced biennially in collaboration with the Institute
for Urban Policy Research
at the University of Texas at Dallas, Beyond
is a comprehensive assessment of the four factors –
pediatric health, economic security, safety and education – that shape
children’s lives across the region and influence their opportunities for
the future.

“The strength of a community can be measured by how well it cares for
its youngest and most vulnerable residents,” said Christopher J.
Durovich, president and CEO of Children’s Health. “The insights gleaned
from this report emphasize that while we’ve seen some improvements and
successes, much work remains. Armed with this powerful data, we implore
everyone to treat our mission—to make life better for children—as a call
to action.”

Highlights from the 2017 report show:

  • Lower rates of uninsured children—but more work is needed

    • Rates of uninsured children in Dallas, Cooke, Fannin and Grayson
      counties are still twice the national average. More than half a
      million children in Texas are uninsured overall.
    • The number of children covered by Medicaid has increased. Nearly
      50% of children in Dallas County are enrolled in Medicaid.
  • High rates of childhood poverty and food insecurity across the

    • One in 5 children in North Texas lives in poverty. Children living
      in poverty are seven times more likely to be in poor or fair
    • Food insecurity has consistently declined in the region since
      2013, but all six counties still exceed the national average. One
      in 4 children in Dallas, Cooke, Fannin and Grayson counties is
      considered food insecure.
    • Nearly half a million children in North Texas qualify for free or
      reduced-price lunches in school. However, many still miss meals on
      weekends or during the summer.
  • A steady increase in housing instability among children

    • One in 10 homeless children lives in Texas. Unstable housing and
      homelessness among youths have long-term impacts that include
      higher risks of behavioral health problems, criminal behavior and
      victimization, and poor education outcomes, among others.
  • A persisting need for access to mental and behavioral health

    • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among children ages 10
      to 14 nationally, and youth suicide rates have remained steady
      across North Texas.
    • An estimated 122,009 children in the region live with an emotional
      disturbance or disorder (including anxiety, bipolar, conduct,
      obsessive-compulsive and eating disorders), while nearly 30,000
      have a serious emotional disturbance.
    • Texas ranks last in per-capita funding for people with mental
  • North Texas children are still struggling in school

    • Nearly 30,000 North Texas third graders—more than half—are reading
      below grade level, a powerful predictor of future high school
    • Cultural competency plays a role; nearly 1 in 3 Dallas County
      students is an English-language learner (Limited English
      Proficiency), compared with 1 in 20 in Fannin County.
  • A critical need to improve care for children in the Texas foster
    care system

    • CPS caseloads in all six counties exceed the national
      best-practice threshold of 17 cases per worker. Fannin County’s
      average caseload in 2016 was triple the national recommendation at
    • North Texas has half as many approved foster homes (1,244) as
      children needing placements (nearly 3,000). The number of approved
      foster care homes decreased in Dallas, Denton and Fannin counties,
      while increasing in Collin, Cooke and Grayson.

As in previous years, the 2017 Beyond ABC report was developed
with input from an advisory board comprising representatives from key
North Texas community organizations whose work influences pediatric
health, economic security, safety and education. The advisory board
established the final list of indicators and provided real-world
insights, ideas and solutions to provide context around the data in the
2017 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. For many of the indicators, this data is as recent as 2016.

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
is now published every other year in mid-November.

To download the full report or order hard copies, visit

About Children’s Health℠

 is the eighth-largest pediatric health care provider in the
nation and the leading pediatric health care system in North Texas,
providing a full spectrum of health care services — from daily wellness
and primary care to specialty visits and critical care. Holding eight
disease-specific care certifications from The Joint Commission,
Children’s Health has been consistently named one of the nation’s top
pediatric providers by U.S. News & World Report. The
Children’s Health system includes Children’s Medical Center Dallas, as
well as Children’s Medical Center Plano, Our Children’s House inpatient
rehabilitation hospital, multiple specialty centers, Children’s Health
Pediatric Group primary care practices, rehabilitation facilities, home
health, physician services and the Children’s Medical Center Research
Institute at UT Southwestern. For more information about Children’s
Health, visit


Children’s Health
Brooke Traister, 469-978-9373