Every State Is Failing to Equip All Kids for Success, Especially Children of Color, Says New Report

Posted January 10, 2024
Newsrelease failingtoequip 2024

Despite improve­ments in many key mea­sures, the Unit­ed States is still fail­ing its chil­dren, espe­cial­ly kids of col­or, as too many chil­dren are blocked from reach­ing essen­tial mile­stones of well-being. Wide and per­sis­tent dis­par­i­ties are hin­der­ing Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native, Black and Lati­no young peo­ple in par­tic­u­lar, and all chil­dren in every state gen­er­al­ly. This could have poten­tial­ly dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences for the coun­try, accord­ing to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2024 Race for Results® report.

We need chil­dren of every race and eth­nic­i­ty to grow up ready to pro­vide the tal­ent, intel­lect and hard work that will make our coun­try strong and pros­per­ous,” says Leslie Boissiere, vice pres­i­dent of exter­nal affairs at the Casey Foun­da­tion. This coun­try of great abun­dance, cre­ativ­i­ty and pos­si­bil­i­ty can — and must — make bet­ter pol­i­cy choic­es to elim­i­nate the bar­ri­ers kids face.”

Down­load Race for Results

The report’s Race for Results index stan­dard­izes scores across 12 indi­ca­tors that rep­re­sent well-being mile­stones from cra­dle to career, con­vert­ing them into a scale rang­ing from 0 to 1,000 to make it easy to com­pare and see dif­fer­ences across states and racial and eth­nic groups. The 2024 index also intro­duces a new group — chil­dren of two or more races — who now make up 5% of the U.S. child pop­u­la­tion. Nation­al index scores ranged from 386 for Black chil­dren to 771 for Asian and Pacif­ic Islander chil­dren. Cal­cu­la­tions of the index for all 50 states show that expe­ri­ences vary wide­ly depend­ing on where a child lives, from a high of 877 for Asian and Pacif­ic Islander chil­dren in New Jer­sey to a low of 180 for Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native chil­dren in South Dakota.

Young peo­ple are miss­ing crit­i­cal devel­op­men­tal mile­stones as a direct result of fail­ure to invest in poli­cies, pro­grams and ser­vices that sup­port chil­dren, espe­cial­ly in under-resourced com­mu­ni­ties and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. Race for Results also notes with con­cern that much of the coun­try does not have data bro­ken down by race, eth­nic­i­ty and oth­er key fac­tors such as whether chil­dren reside in immi­grant fam­i­lies and whether they have been involved with child wel­fare, jus­tice and oth­er human-ser­vices sys­tems. With­out dis­ag­gre­gat­ed data, local and nation­al lead­ers can­not ful­ly know or under­stand the needs of young peo­ple and their families.

The Casey Foun­da­tion intro­duced the Race for Results index in a 2014 report and updat­ed it in 2017. This third Race for Results report car­ries data from the after­math of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic that demon­strate both the urgency of ensur­ing all chil­dren can thrive and the promise of pol­i­cy pre­scrip­tions for achiev­ing that goal. For exam­ple, the time-lim­it­ed expan­sion of the fed­er­al child tax cred­it in 2021 tem­porar­i­ly lift­ed mil­lions of fam­i­lies out of pover­ty. While a major­i­ty of those fam­i­lies were fam­i­lies of col­or, this pol­i­cy imme­di­ate­ly improved finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty for fam­i­lies of all racial and eth­nic groups.

Indi­ca­tors are grouped into four areas: ear­ly child­hood, edu­ca­tion and ear­ly work expe­ri­ences, fam­i­ly resources and neigh­bor­hood con­text. Asian and Pacif­ic Islander chil­dren have the high­est index score at 771, fol­lowed by white chil­dren at 697 and chil­dren of two or more races at 612. Scores for Lati­no (452), Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native (418) and Black chil­dren (386) are con­sid­er­ably low­er. South Dako­ta had the low­est aver­age index scores across all cat­e­gories, fol­lowed by sev­er­al south­ern and south­west­ern states. Ver­mont, New Jer­sey, Mass­a­chu­setts, New Hamp­shire and Maine had the high­est aver­age of index scores.

A sam­pling of oth­er key points:

  • Read­ing and math scores tum­bled dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. In 2022, only a third of all fourth graders were pro­fi­cient in read­ing. The fig­ure was about 1 in 6 for Black (16%) and Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native (18%) and 1 in 5 Lati­no (20%) children.
  • On pover­ty, between 2007-11 and 201721, there were gains among every demo­graph­ic group, but too many fam­i­lies still strug­gle to make ends meet. More than half of Black (58%), Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native (57%) and Lati­no (53%) kids live below 200% of the fed­er­al pover­ty level.
  • Liv­ing in immi­grant fam­i­lies can have a mixed effect, with chil­dren gen­er­al­ly more like­ly to be born at a nor­mal birth weight, but less like­ly to be pro­fi­cient in read­ing and math.
  • There are bright spots. In 201721, the share of chil­dren liv­ing in low-pover­ty neigh­bor­hoods increased for all demo­graph­ic groups com­pared with 2007-11, with a jump of 12 per­cent­age points for Lati­no children.

The Casey Foun­da­tion makes sev­er­al rec­om­men­da­tions in Race for Results toward improv­ing out­comes for all children:

  • Con­gress should expand the fed­er­al child tax cred­it and the earned income tax credit.
  • Law­mak­ers should con­sid­er baby bonds and children’s sav­ings accounts — pro­grams that con­tribute pub­lic funds to ded­i­cat­ed accounts to help fam­i­lies save for their children’s futures.
  • States that have not expand­ed Med­ic­aid access should do so.
  • Pol­i­cy­mak­ers must cre­ate tar­get­ed pro­grams and poli­cies that can close well-being gaps for young peo­ple of col­or, because uni­ver­sal poli­cies are impor­tant but insuf­fi­cient for con­tin­ued progress.

Cer­tain key moments in a young person’s life are piv­otal to ensur­ing they achieve their dreams — and good pub­lic pol­i­cy can affect the out­comes at these moments, as we saw with the expan­sion of the child tax cred­it. When we effec­tive­ly address the needs of young peo­ple, they can ful­fill their poten­tial, thrive and strength­en our com­mu­ni­ties in the future,” said Boissiere.

The lat­est Race for Results is avail­able at www​.aecf​.org/​r​a​c​e​f​o​r​r​e​sults

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