To chart the path forward for Houston’s kids, we must begin with an understanding of where we are. Data must be the catalyst for any conversation regarding the well-being of our children. However, data alone is not sufficient. We must also overlay context to better understand the complexities of the many issues facing our children. Growing Up in Houston aims to do just that. As President and CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK, I want to welcome you to the seventeenth edition of Growing Up in Houston: Assessing the Quality of Life of our Children (GUIH).

In partnership with the United Way of Greater Houston and many others over the years, we are pleased to present you with this publication, providing a glimpse into the status of Houston’s children. This publication is intended to inform stakeholders and policy makers on the challenges facing our children as well as the opportunities that are available to make the greatest impact. We believe this publication provides invaluable insight which is crucial for progress.

Since our last edition, families, schools, and communities have been working to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while many of the COVID-era supports have ended. As parents return to in-person work and students return to physical classrooms, many are bringing challenges that did not exist beforehand: months of insecure employment, formula shortages, inflation, and new trauma, to name a few. The purpose of this report is not only to emphasize these challenges, but also to highlight the ingenuity and resilience of our children and communities as well as opportunities to rebuild stronger.

Our approach is centered on the whole child, recognizing that no part of development happens in a vacuum, but rather that children live in an ecosystem. This year’s Growing Up in Houston addresses the following:

  • Houston’s Changing Demographics
  • Early Childhood Education
  • K-12 Education
  • Opportunity Youth and Young Adults
  • Health

Throughout these sections, we strive to highlight inequities, unique barriers, and experiences for immigrant populations. We also outline a path forward featuring policy recommendations that would promote well-being for children, families, and communities in Houston.

If we were to give Houston a grade for how well we are responding to the needs of Houston’s children, Houston would receive a D with a B for optimism. We still have a long way to go to ensure that our children have their basic needs met and are being given opportunities to learn and grow into their future selves. However, progress is being made and there is hope for the future.

At CHILDREN AT RISK, we believe the needs of our children should be the highest priority. Our hope is that all individuals – from public officials to parents and educators – can gain a solid understanding of the status of Houston’s children and commit to continued progress for a better future.


Dr. Bob Sanborn,