Put simply, Texas is home to a massive number of infants, toddlers, and young children. It is also one of the most diverse states in the nation, where young children come from varying economic, racial, ethnic, linguistic, and religious backgrounds. To effectively address school readiness, policymakers need to understand and respond to the demographic realities of the state’s population of young children.
The population of Texas children under age six is greater than Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Florida combined. Approximately 1 in 10 American children under age six live in Texas.
If Texas meaningfully boosts school readiness, it will not only positively impact Texas’s future but have national implications as well.
In addition to the overwhelming scale, it’s also noteworthy that the state’s youngest children are diverse and raised in a variety of family contexts and household structures.
Tragically, more than 1 in 3 Texas children under age six are living in poverty or near poverty (household income under 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level). For a family of four, that equates to a household income of under $42,000 per year. Due to historical and current inequities in education, housing, and other areas, children of color are more than twice as likely to be in poverty or near poverty compared to White children, with nearly half of Black and Hispanic children under age six living in poverty or near poverty (44.5 percent and 44.1 percent respectively).
The birth rate in Texas indicates that Texas will continue to be home to a large percentage of the country’s babies, toddlers, and young children. Consistent with the number of young children in Texas today, approximately 1 in 10 U.S. births each year are children born in Texas.