The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its latest Race for Results® report a decade after its inaugural publication, revealing progress in some areas but persistent disparities for children of color in the United States.
The report utilizes Casey's Race for Results index based on 12 indicators of child and youth well-being, showing that improvements have been made in at least six out of 11 comparable indicators across racial and ethnic groups over the past decade. Despite this progress, the nation falls short in adequately preparing children to achieve crucial milestones, with no racial or ethnic group coming close to the maximum score of 1,000 on the index.
The report emphasizes the need for targeted investments in children of color to eliminate long-standing barriers and address specific needs. While there has been an increase in attention to the circumstances and needs of young people, disparities persist. The national index scores range from 386 for Black children to 771 for Asian and Pacific Islander children. State-level variations indicate that experiences differ widely based on location, with Vermont, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine having some of the highest index scores and smallest gaps among racial and ethnic groups.
Youth of color constitute a slight majority of young Americans, and 1 in 4 children in the U.S. grows up in an immigrant family. The report stresses the importance of equitable access to opportunity for children of color, emphasizing the role of their contributions in maintaining the country's health and economic security. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the urgency of ensuring all children can thrive, with policy solutions like the time-limited expansion of the federal child tax credit showcasing the improvements to families' financial stability.
Recommendations for a Brighter Future
Long-standing barriers have affected generations of Americans of color, and it will take both innovative programs and policy shifts to change our nation’s trajectory.
Advancing Universal Policies to Bolster All Children
Using the steps below, leaders can use large-scale policies to directly improve outcomes for health, family financial stability and postsecondary success included in the Race for Results index.
Expand federal and state child tax credits and earned income tax credits for low-income families.
Design programs that help families provide for their child’s future while reducing racial disparities.
Expand Medicaid coverage.
Creating Targeted Strategies
In accordance with the Foundation’s Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide, Casey recommends policymakers, practitioners and program developers take additional steps to create targeted programs and policies that can close well-being gaps for young people of color.
Follow the data.
Engage communities that face the steepest barriers to opportunities and success.
Analyze root causes of inequities.
Use racial equity impact assessment tools and implementation measures to ensure policies achieve targeted goals.
In conjunction with this report, the Foundation shared its 2017 methodology document describing the Race for Results index and a news release with a national take on the Race for Results findings.
Findings & Stats
American Indian or Alaska Native Children
American Indian or Alaska Native children face some of the steepest barriers to success of any group in this analysis. Of the 31 states for which data were reported, those in which American Indian or Alaska Native children have the highest levels of well-being are spread out across the country.
Asian and Pacific Islander Children
State Race for Results index scores for Asian and Pacific Islander children are consistently among the highest across all groups. Asian and Pacific Islander children in New Jersey had the highest score at 877. Even among the lowest-scoring states, only Alaska (523) and Hawaii (594) scored below 600.
While some indicators have improved, the national index score for Black children is the lowest in the Race for Results index, demonstrating that much more must be done to position these children for success.
While progress has been made across the nation for Latino children on some key indicators, index scores show states must build on it. Only 13 states had index scores above 500, with the highest scores in Vermont (723) and Maine (715) — places with relatively small populations of Latino youth.
Among the racial groups, white children have the highest index scores across states. The northeastern states of Massachusetts (798), New Jersey (798) and Connecticut (793) hold the top three scores for white children. The 10 lowest-scoring states are overwhelmingly in the Southeast and Southwest.
Children of Two or More Races
The national 2024 Race for Results index score for children of two or more races was 612, with state scores that were the most consistent across the country of any group. This is the first year data for this racial group is available in the report series.
Statements & Quotations
The 2024 Race for Results index and its indicators tell a story of incremental progress against a backdrop of persistent disparities. These data suggest change can happen and should be encouraged on a scale that is both broader in scope and tailored to the needs of different groups of young people.
Learning from past shortcomings and being mindful of the present need to equip our next generation for success, leaders should design, implement and manage policies to ensure they support child well-being and create opportunity for all children while closing gaps across race and class.
All our children need and deserve our best.
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