San Antonio Kids: A Glimpse at Texas’ Future

Jennifer Lee

San Antonio has a rich history that illuminates much of the great cultural diversity of Texas’ past, while giving us a peek into the state’s future.

Children living in the eight-county San Antonio metro area are 64 percent Hispanic, 25 percent White, 6 percent Black and 4 percent Asian, multiracial or some other race, which closely models what Texas kids are projected to look like in 2050.

So what can we learn from San Antonio?

First, the future of Texas depends on closing the racial and ethnic gaps in child well-being that we see today. An analysis by the Office of the State Demographer showed that if Texas does not succeed in supporting educational achievement for Latino, Black, Asian and White students at the same high rates, the labor force will be less educated in 2030 than it is today, diminishing a critical source of Texas’ economic growth and prosperity.

In contrast, if Texas were to succeed in supporting educational achievement for all students, Texas will enjoy an even more educated labor force that it does today, strengthening the foundation of our economy. One analysis found that eliminating differences in income and employment by race and ethnicity would have boosted Texas’ economy by $420 billion in one year.

We can see the benefits of supporting child well-being for every child when we look at changes in access to health care. Bexar County has one of the lowest child uninsured rates in Texas (8 percent, compared to 11 percent statewide), driven by its low uninsured rates for children of all races and ethnicities. Notably, ten percent of Latino children in Bexar County remain uninsured, compared to 15 percent of Latino children in Texas.

However, even with its relatively low uninsured rates, Hispanic children are still the least likely to have health insurance due to multiple barriers that are more common to Hispanic families: jobs that don’t offer affordable insurance options to children of employees, financial barriers and lack of knowledge of financial assistance available to help pay for insurance, and the challenges of navigating a complex system when language or immigration status come into play.

Research shows that expanding coverage to low-income parents could improve rates even more. And although Bexar County has relatively low child uninsured rates, racial and ethnic differences remain in who is most and least likely to be covered. If we were able to eliminate these differences, nearly all children in Texas would have the insurance that helps to ensure consistent access to preventive care, more families would have the financial protection against the costs of common or uncommon childhood accidents or illnesses, and hospitals and communities would strengthen their financial sustainability to be able to care for all community members.

For all organizations and government agencies that serve Texans, identifying obstacles that specific communities are more likely to face and intentionally working to break down these obstacles produces results. San Antonio proves that demographics does not have to be destiny—in fact, it shouldn’t be. CPPP’s vision for Texas is a state that provides meaningful and abundant opportunities for every child, across demographic characteristics like gender, race or ethnicity. With explicit and intentional work, we can reach that goal and make Texas the best place for kids.

To read the full report, click here

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