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Quality of Life Study Has Broad Focus, With Three Important Areas

May 3, 2010

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Tihara Vargas, special projects director for the Waco Foundation, says the document that the Waco Foundation commissioned with the help of the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition highlighted some real areas of need and opportunity locally. The study focuses on the ages of zero to five for local children, a time when brain development is key. Ashley Allison, director of the Waco Foundation:

Some of the areas of in-depth study in the report include issues related to poverty, such as the teen birth rate, where McLennan County unfortunately ranks very high. English proficiency, neighborhood foreclosure rates, child abuse, and low-birth weight are also among those areas studied. But three areas in particular stood out as being intersections of need and ability to target. The first is poverty. In the county, upwards of 25% of children grow up in poverty.

The zip codes with the three highest poverty rates, in descending order are 76707, 76711, and 76704, covering South Waco, Bellmead, and just north of downtown. Of special interest to parents everywhere, but especially to families living in poverty, is child-care. The study knows that the three fore-mentioned zip codes need work based on their poverty levels. Quality child care availability is vital to the children of these families in preparing them for school.

Tihara Vargas points out that it takes thousands of hours to become licensed to style hair, but less than ten to become licensed to care for children. The study points at the need to provide quality child care at an affordable rate to parents.

A final area, says Ashley Allison, was one that had not anticipated before the study.

Tomorrow, we'll hear from Maria Aguilar of the Family Health Center on their efforts to educate mothers on the importance of pre-natal care as our look at the McLennan County Childhood Quality of Life Study continues. You can find prior stories on our website, and see the study at www.kwbu.org/childstudy. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.

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