North Texas

Survey Shows Most North Texas Children Are Healthy, But Work Still to Be Done

Half of parents did not believe oral health was connected to overall health

The Center for Children's Health, led by Cook Children's, unveiled Wednesday the latest findings of an in-depth survey reflecting the well-being of children in a six-county area. 

The group conducts the survey every three years and includes information gathered from more than 8,000 families in Tarrant, Denton, Johnson, Hood, Parker and Wise counties. 

The survey asked parents and community leaders questions about a variety of topics regarding their children's health. 

The goal of the data is to help community leaders and organizations identify children's health priorities and implement solutions. 

"It's a very big deal, because it guides our work in the community," said Marilyn Nappier, director of child health evaluation at The Center for Children's Health. 

According to The Center for Children's Health, the top findings included:

  • Ninety-two percent of parents felt their children were safe at school. This was lower than the national rate of 98 percent and the state rate of 97percent.
  • Community leaders felt the importance of addressing mental health issues was up from 41 percent in 2009 to 68 percent in 2018.
  • Community leaders also reported feeling the importance of addressing child abuse was up from 41 percent in 2009 to 65 percent in 2018. 
  • Children in our region are more likely to miss school than the state and national rates reflect.

The survey also found that 50 percent of parents don't believe oral health is connected to overall health.

"It's really helped us target where do we need to be? Where's the missing link? Where do we advocate legislatively for? Where do we need to make sure we inundate with education and awareness?" said Tonya Fuqua, DDS, director of Save A Smile.

Save A Smile provides preventive and restorative dental care for children from low-income families with the help of volunteer dentists who do screenings at schools. 

The school-based grassroots approach of the program includes a social service model and is the key component to connecting children to the care they need.

Fuqua said data from the survey helps them fill the gaps of service and raise awareness.

"We have a lot of work to move that needle," Fuqua said.

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