New Research Series Examines Roots of Racial Inequities in Child and Family Well-Being

Posted September 18, 2021, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

A Black family of four, including two young daughters, sitting on a couch and smiling.

Racial inequity is wide­spread and stub­born­ly per­sis­tent in Amer­i­ca today. Sys­tems and insti­tu­tions across the coun­try are fail­ing — still — to pro­vide the oppor­tu­ni­ties and sup­port nec­es­sary for chil­dren of col­or to thrive. 

Against this back­drop, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and the Con­rad N. Hilton Foun­da­tion are sup­port­ing a series of research projects, called Ele­vat­ing Equi­ty, that aims to advance racial equi­ty for Amer­i­can fam­i­lies of color. 

The series con­sists of three mul­ti-year projects that will exam­ine how par­ents, care­givers and young chil­dren change over time and across a range of domains. Research teams will seek to iden­ti­fy struc­tur­al and sys­temic fac­tors affect­ing well-being, includ­ing how racial bias and racial dis­par­i­ties can impact child and fam­i­ly health. They will also work to iden­ti­fy strengths and assets — in indi­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties and sys­tems — that can be max­i­mized to pro­mote equity.

About the Projects in Ele­vat­ing Equity 

  • Jacque­line Sims of Boston Uni­ver­si­ty is lead­ing an effort to exam­ine how Black moth­ers — along with social and neigh­bor­hood resources — pro­tect against the neg­a­tive impacts of racial bias on fam­i­ly health and well-being. The project will uti­lize a research method called pho­tovoice, which enables par­tic­i­pants to record their own real­i­ty by tak­ing, select­ing and reflect­ing on pho­tographs. Researchers from Boston Uni­ver­si­ty, Geor­gia State Uni­ver­si­ty and Boston Col­lege will con­duct the study in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Black Child Devel­op­ment Insti­tute-Atlanta, a com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tion that works direct­ly with moth­ers in Atlanta.
  • Caitlin McPher­ran Lom­bar­di of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Con­necti­cut is inves­ti­gat­ing how social poli­cies and pro­grams, exclu­sion­ary poli­cies and com­mu­ni­ty char­ac­ter­is­tics are asso­ci­at­ed with the well-being of chil­dren and par­ents from immi­grant fam­i­lies. This effort — con­duct­ed in part­ner­ship with Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, Sacra­men­to — will use data from the Ear­ly Child­hood Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Study, Birth Cohort and from focus groups of immi­grant par­ents with young chil­dren. Results will be inte­grat­ed to pro­vide infor­ma­tion about how social poli­cies and pro­grams and com­mu­ni­ty resources can bet­ter pro­mote child devel­op­ment and par­ent well-being among immi­grant families.
  • In Newark, New Jer­sey, a team led by Chris­hana Lloyd of Child Trends is study­ing how hous­ing pat­terns of Black moth­ers relate to eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty and well-being. The project will seek to devel­op com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven hous­ing pol­i­cy solu­tions and iden­ti­fy sup­ports and resources that can help moth­ers obtain safe, sta­ble hous­ing. The team will use data from the Frag­ile Fam­i­lies and Child Well­be­ing Study and build on rela­tion­ships ini­ti­at­ed through a fed­er­al­ly fund­ed Promise Neigh­bor­hood evaluation.

Over the life of the series, the foun­da­tions plan to bring the grantees togeth­er to dis­cuss their progress and share how they are engag­ing res­i­dents and fam­i­lies and using their find­ings to inform poli­cies that sup­port equity. 

More than half of the young peo­ple in the Unit­ed States are young peo­ple of col­or,” says Alli­son Holmes, a senior research asso­ciate at the Casey Foun­da­tion. With this research, we want to know: What are the struc­tur­al oppor­tu­ni­ties and sources of sup­port that can help elim­i­nate inequity and help chil­dren, young peo­ple and fam­i­lies thrive?” 

Read about incor­po­rat­ing equi­ty prin­ci­ples in social sci­ence research

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