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

Posted January 10, 2024
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
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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