New Report Shows Racial Barriers Prevent Children of Color and Immigrant Children from Reaching Potential, Postrecession

Posted October 24, 2017, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

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The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2017 Race for Results report shows that per­sis­tent chal­lenges in oppor­tu­ni­ties for suc­cess and well-being after the reces­sion hin­der chil­dren of col­or and kids liv­ing in immi­grant fam­i­lies, espe­cial­ly African-Amer­i­can, Lati­no and Amer­i­can Indi­an kids.

Race for Results, released today, under­scores the for­mi­da­ble risks to healthy child devel­op­ment such as pover­ty, lim­it­ed edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties and fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion, in immi­grant fam­i­lies and for chil­dren of col­or, exac­er­bat­ed by poli­cies that lim­it resources and restrict access. The report comes at a time when the nation’s law­mak­ers con­sid­er pol­i­cy changes that will affect the 800,000 young peo­ple who have been grant­ed a reprieve from fear of depor­ta­tion through the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Read, down­load or order Race for Results

The report reveals the reach of chron­ic pover­ty: chil­dren of immi­grants account for 30% of all low-income kids in the Unit­ed States, but rep­re­sent less than one-fourth of the nation’s over­all child population.

The nation’s vital­i­ty and pros­per­i­ty depend on the suc­cess of every child in this coun­try,” said Casey Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent and CEO Patrick McCarthy. Like gen­er­a­tions before them, immi­grants have helped fur­ther the nation and its econ­o­my. We will lose a great deal if pol­i­cy­mak­ers don’t expand exist­ing poli­cies that work and imple­ment new leg­is­la­tion to sup­port chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies, as well as mil­lions of U.S.-born chil­dren of color.”

Race for Results mea­sures children’s progress on the nation­al and state lev­els in key edu­ca­tion, health and eco­nom­ic mile­stones by racial and eth­nic groups. The report’s index uses a com­pos­ite score of indi­ca­tors on a scale of 1 (low­est) to 1,000 (high­est) for com­par­i­son. The index shows per­sis­tent, sig­nif­i­cant dis­par­i­ties among African-Amer­i­can (369), Amer­i­can Indi­an (413) and Lati­no chil­dren (429) com­pared to white (713) and Asian and Pacif­ic Islander chil­dren (783).

Race for Results lays bare that despite some progress, a gulf in pros­per­i­ty con­tin­ues to impact chil­dren liv­ing in immi­grant fam­i­lies, many of whom are chil­dren of color:

  • Eigh­teen mil­lion youth are chil­dren of immi­grants or immi­grants them­selves. Of those, 88% are U.S. cit­i­zens and 84% are chil­dren of color.
  • Medi­an income for immi­grant fam­i­lies with kids is 20% less than for U.S.-born families.
  • One in four chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies lives below the fed­er­al pover­ty line. That’s 4.5 mil­lion kids.
  • Admin­is­tra­tive deci­sions threat­en the sta­tus of 800,000 young peo­ple cur­rent­ly in the Unit­ed States under the DACA pro­gram, more than 90% of whom are employed or enrolled in school.

Despite these bar­ri­ers, chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies con­tin­ue to strive for a bet­ter life:

  • Eight in 10 chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies (80%) live in two-par­ent house­holds com­pared to 65% of chil­dren in U.S.-born families.
  • Eighty-five per­cent of for­eign-born young adults are in school or work­ing — slight­ly high­er than the pro­por­tion of U.S.-born young adults who are doing so (84%).
  • Young chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies are enrolled in ear­ly-child­hood edu­ca­tion pro­grams at near­ly the same rate (59%) as their U.S.-born peers (60%).

The data make it clear: for chil­dren of col­or, a person’s race is a lead­ing bar­ri­er to suc­cess in the Unit­ed States,” said Nonet Sykes, the Casey Foundation’s direc­tor of racial and eth­nic equi­ty and inclu­sion. With chil­dren of immi­grants and immi­grant chil­dren com­pris­ing such a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the youth pop­u­la­tion, and our future work­force, it is crit­i­cal­ly urgent that we ensure they grow up with access to the sup­port and resources need­ed to thrive.”

For chil­dren of col­or and chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies, the set­backs are sig­nif­i­cant and amount to a nation­al crisis:

  • In near­ly all states, African-Amer­i­can chil­dren face some of the great­est bar­ri­ers to suc­cess, espe­cial­ly in the South and the Midwest.
  • Amer­i­can Indi­an chil­dren also encounter sig­nif­i­cant obsta­cles to suc­cess. The 220 index score for Amer­i­can Indi­an chil­dren in South Dako­ta is the low­est of any group in any state.
  • Rhode Island (341) and Penn­syl­va­nia (344) showed the low­est index scores for Lati­no chil­dren; kids in the South and South­west are also challenged.
  • Bar­ri­ers to suc­cess vary wide­ly for Asian and Pacif­ic Islander chil­dren. In New Jer­sey, Asian and Pacif­ic Islander chil­dren had the high­est index score for any group in any state (918); Alas­ka had the low­est index score for Asian and Pacif­ic Islander kids at 551.
  • White chil­dren rep­re­sent 51% of the U.S. child pop­u­la­tion and have among the high­est index scores across the states, espe­cial­ly in the North­east. States in the South and South­west are among the low­est-scor­ing for white children.

The report makes three rec­om­men­da­tions to help ensure all chil­dren and their fam­i­lies are afford­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties to reach their full potential:

  • Keep fam­i­lies togeth­er and in their com­mu­ni­ties — Keep­ing chil­dren with their fam­i­lies enables them to meet devel­op­men­tal mile­stones and for par­ents to meet their kids’ needs. For many immi­grant fam­i­lies, this means ensur­ing child well-being is pri­or­i­tized in immi­gra­tion enforce­ment decisions.
  • Help chil­dren meet key devel­op­men­tal mile­stones — Over­all child well-being is key to our nation’s future and is influ­enced by their envi­ron­ments. We must choose poli­cies that make their com­mu­ni­ties more sup­port­ive and healthy, includ­ing ensur­ing schools are wel­com­ing places for all fam­i­lies and are equipped to sup­port the needs of Eng­lish lan­guage learners.
  • Increase eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty for par­ents — Mean­ing­ful pro­grams and poli­cies that improve oppor­tu­ni­ties for low-income work­ers, and address the needs of par­ents and their chil­dren, save tax­pay­ers by reduc­ing the costs of safe­ty-net pro­grams. For exam­ple, pro­vid­ing paid fam­i­ly leave for employ­ees can help par­ents, includ­ing immi­grant parents—who are among the most like­ly to lack access to leave—to bal­ance work and rais­ing a family.

The Casey Foundation’s ongo­ing Race for Results series of pol­i­cy reports and case stud­ies reflects the Foundation’s com­mit­ment to exam­in­ing data and offer­ing data-informed pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions on issues of racial and eth­nic equity.

Read, down­load or order Race for Results

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