MCALLEN, Texas - Recent data collected by the Center for Public Policy Priorities indicates that there are more than 430,000 children currently living in the Rio Grande Valley. But many of these kids tend to lag behind other children in the state in areas such as health, education, and financial security.
Research Analyst Kristie Tingle said, "For instance, in poverty... children in the valley are more than three times more likely to live in an area of concentrated poverty than children in the state of Texas, and that can isolate them and their families from really important resources that they need to thrive."
In terms of health insurance, both children and women of childbearing age in the valley don't have it as good as others across the state.
"For women of childbearing age in Hidalgo County, the rate was almost 50 percent don't have health insurance compared to Texas, where I think it's only around 20 percent. If they have insurance, they're more likely to get access to prenatal care, which makes them less likely to have premature births or give birth to babies at low birth rates. What we've seen since the implementation of the affordable care act is that rates of the uninsured have gone down for children in the valley, but they are still higher than state levels."
Health coverage for over 20,000 children in the valley is in jeopardy, with the CHIPS Program expiring in January. This is something that concerns leaders of several organizations in the valley. They are urging politicians to get their act together with this issue.
"There is no need for children to lose coverage. Children are in school and can learn better when they're healthy, so that is our concern that our state and the United States itself need to step it up and do the right thing for children." Said Public Director Graciela Camarena.
The data collected was given to multiple organizations in the Rio Grande Valley. Many of them will try to share the information with local leaders to try and improve the well-being of children in the valley.