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
Blog newreportshowsracialbarriersprevent 2017

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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