KIDS COUNT Network Deepens Strategies for Combating Racial Inequities

Posted December 14, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
William J. Barber II

William J. Barber II | Photo provided by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

As more than 150 lead­ers from child advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions from across the Unit­ed States kicked off a recent two-day retreat in Atlanta, social jus­tice activist Rev. William Bar­ber remind­ed the group that address­ing racial inequities in child well-being is a uni­ver­sal imperative.

[There] has been a delib­er­ate attempt to racial­ize pover­ty and turn it into a black and Lati­no issue to sep­a­rate and divide,” said Bar­ber, the founder of Repair­ers of the Breach, who recent­ly was named a MacArthur Fel­low by the MacArthur Foun­da­tion. This can keep peo­ple of dif­fer­ent races from work­ing togeth­er for change,” Bar­ber said, and he urged those assem­bled not to let that happen.

The speech set the tone for the gath­er­ing of the KIDS COUNT® net­work in Octo­ber. This year’s con­fer­ence cen­tered on learn­ing best prac­tices and strate­gies that give chil­dren of all race and eth­nic­i­ties the oppor­tu­ni­ty to succeed.

KIDS COUNT orga­ni­za­tions have made a con­cert­ed effort to track inequities in child well-being since the release of the Foun­da­tion’s Race for Results: Build­ing a Path to Oppor­tu­ni­ty for All Chil­dren.

Mem­bers of the KIDS COUNT net­work pro­mote effec­tive poli­cies and track the well-being of chil­dren to ensure that fam­i­lies are on paths to eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty and com­mu­ni­ties are safe and healthy for all kids, regard­less of race, class or zip code. Every state has a KIDS COUNT orga­ni­za­tion, as do the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, Puer­to Rico and the U.S. Vir­gin Islands.

This year’s gath­er­ing helped KIDS COUNT orga­ni­za­tions to take spe­cif­ic steps to achieve equi­ty for kids and fam­i­lies, including:

  • encour­ag­ing buy-in from board members;
  • using racial equi­ty impact analy­ses to lever­age pol­i­cy change; and
  • empow­er­ing white lead­ers to become cham­pi­ons in race equity.

Sev­er­al lead­ers with­in the net­work con­fessed to wrestling with chal­lenges in pre­sent­ing data by race.

Some­times I can be fear­ful to dis­ag­gre­gate data because I do not want to prop­a­gate stereo­types,” said Nik­ki Thomas, project man­ag­er for research and data at Children’s Defense Fund – Ohio. But [work­shop] pre­sen­ters described how aggre­gat­ing data can pro­tect priv­i­lege because the dis­par­i­ties remain hid­den and the num­bers and gaps are not interrogated.”

Thomas added that she was able to walk away with con­crete steps for col­lect­ing and pre­sent­ing data in a way that inspires action and respects the peo­ple whose expe­ri­ences are reflected.

Dis­ag­gre­gat­ing data by race and eth­nic­i­ty is just one step lead­ers and advo­cates should use to craft more equi­table poli­cies for chil­dren and fam­i­lies. The Casey Foundation’s sev­en-step Race Equi­ty and Inclu­sion Action Guide pro­vides a deep­er guide to help orga­ni­za­tions advance race equi­ty and elim­i­nate sys­temic bar­ri­ers to improve the lives of chil­dren and families.

Learn more about resources for racial and eth­nic equity

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