KIDS COUNT Network Brainstorms Racial Equity Strategies

Posted December 12, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog kidscountbrainstormsraceequity 2016

Near­ly 200 child and youth advo­cates gath­ered in San Anto­nio ear­li­er this fall to dis­cuss race and eth­nic equi­ty dur­ing the annu­al con­ven­ing of the KIDS COUNT net­work.

The unique focus on race dur­ing this year’s con­fer­ence allowed the advo­cates to deep­en their knowl­edge of sys­temic and insti­tu­tion­al racism while brain­storm­ing strate­gies to take back to their communities.

Qual­i­ty schools, safe places to live and acces­si­ble health ser­vices are some of the key ingre­di­ents need­ed for chil­dren and fam­i­lies to thrive, and the KIDS COUNT state-based advo­cates are the edu­ca­tors on whom many deci­sion mak­ers rely on for sound pol­i­cy for­mu­la­tion,” said Kari­na Jimenez Lewis, a senior asso­ciate at the Casey Foun­da­tion. This year’s insti­tute pro­vid­ed a sup­port­ive learn­ing envi­ron­ment for advo­cates to advance pol­i­cy, data and com­mu­ni­ca­tions work infused with equi­ty and inclu­sion approaches”

The KIDS COUNT net­work — con­sist­ing of orga­ni­za­tions in all 50 states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, Puer­to Rico and the U.S. Vir­gin Islands — com­piles state and local data on child well-being which then gets col­lat­ed into the annu­al Data Book rank­ings and oth­er data snap­shots and reports. Since the 2014 release of the Race for Results pol­i­cy report, the KIDS COUNT net­work has made it a pri­or­i­ty to gath­er and dis­sem­i­nate more child well-being data sort­ed by race and eth­nic­i­ty. That data is made avail­able through the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter.

Experts on race and equi­ty — which includ­ed john pow­ell from the Haas Insti­tute, Kamal Essa­heb from the Nation­al Immi­gra­tion Law Cen­ter and Alex­is McGill John­son from the Per­cep­tion Insti­tute — guid­ed and facil­i­tat­ed ses­sions to give the KIDS COUNT lead­ers tools they can use in their com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pol­i­cy advo­ca­cy. Many of the strate­gies dis­cussed includ­ed the need for bipar­ti­san buy-in and the need not just to close gaps between chil­dren of col­or and their white coun­ter­parts, but to cre­ate tai­lored paths that give all chil­dren the oppor­tu­ni­ty to succeed.

And while the core of the KIDS COUNT work is state-lev­el, for­mer San Anto­nio may­or and HUD Sec­re­tary Hen­ry Cis­neros kicked off the con­ven­ing with a request that the net­work con­sid­er using its major cities as prov­ing grounds for many of the poli­cies and strate­gies being recommended.

The inter­est and demand for both deep­er knowl­edge and prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tion of the prin­ci­ples and tools for equi­ty and inclu­sion-dri­ven work are at an all-time high,” Lewis said. In the com­ing year, we expect to see our grantees devel­op the action plans that they cre­at­ed and engage more deeply with grass­roots and emerg­ing advocates.”

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