Child Health in Texas
Childhood is a critical period of rapid growth and development. Children will go through a lot of changes. At a very young age, quick physical growth periods take place and children develop cognitive, social, and life skills. They also build habits and behaviors that impact their future health.
DSHS Maternal and Child Health (MCH) supports Texas families as their children grow. MCH defines childhood as ages 1-12. The 2019 Texas Demographic Center estimates there are 6,919,588 children in Texas under age 18. Over 40% are ages 5-11 and about 28% are birth-4.
MCH addresses different levels of health prevention and promotion. MCH uses proven strategies, data, and research to:
- Increase health-promoting behaviors;
- Decrease child injuries;
- Promote healthy environments;
- Reduce overweight and obesity in children in Texas;
- Increase partnerships with stakeholders across Texas; and
- Increase developmental screenings.
Emerging Issues in Child Health in Texas include:
- Food security;
- Screen time use;
- Dental health;
- Uninsured or under insured youth;
- Childhood asthma;
- Mental health;
- Poverty; and
- Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
For support with any of the emerging issues, please visit the Early Childhood Texas website below for resources.
Early Childhood Texas Website Launched!
The Early Childhood Texas website is a one-stop shop to access information about programs and resources available from:
- Texas Workforce Commission;
- Texas Education Agency;
- Texas Department of Family and Protective Services;
- Texas Department of State Health Services; and
- Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
The website offers Texans information and resources in the following areas:
- Health & Development: child development (including resources for children with special needs), nutrition, health tips, and healthcare;
- Parenting: child safety, parenting tips and support, and at-home learning activities;
- Child Care & Education: child care and after school programs, pre-kindergarten, Head Start, and Early Childhood Special Education; and
- Eligibility Programs: state sponsored programs and assistance opportunities for Texas families.
Help Your Child Grow and Thrive!
As a parent, you already have what it takes to help your young child learn and grow. Watch your child’s amazing progress by tracking their developmental milestones —how they play, learn, speak, act, and move – and sharing that progress with your child’s doctor at every check-up.
Check out free tools from Learn the Signs. Act Early. to help you track your child’s milestones!
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its developmental milestones. These milestone checklists help parents, health care providers, and early childhood professionals identify children with developmental delays or disabilities at younger ages. This can connect families to proven interventions earlier.
The checklists show when 75% of children should reach certain milestones. This makes it easier to determine when a child might need further evaluation. A checklist is available for each recommended well-child visit including ages 15 and 30 months.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
For information and resources about COVID-19 and child health, please visit the following links:
- CDC COVID-19 vaccination information and recommendations for Children and Teens
- Where to find vaccines
Coping Strategies and Mental Health
- Stress reduction and coping strategies - Helping Children Cope - Support For Teens and Young Adults
- COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line : Call 1-833-986-1919 (available 24 hours a day/7 days a week) to speak with a mental health professional for help dealing with anxiety, depression, stress, grief, or worry.
- TPA Pro Bono Project: COVID-19: receive up to two hours of free mental health services provided by the Texas Psychological Association pro bono service providers. To learn more, email email@example.com.
These resources are specific for families with children ages 1 to 12 years.
Visit the DSHS COVID-19 website for COVID-19 resources specific to children with special health care needs.
Please contact us for more information on child health or the Maternal and Child Health programs at:
Texas Department of State Health Services
Maternal & Child Health
PO Box 149347, Mail Code 1922
Austin, TX 78714-9347
External links are informational and DSHS does not endorse them. These external sites may also not be accessible to individuals with disabilities.