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The Race is On to Achieve Better Results for Tomorrow’s Children

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Featured, Reader favorites, Who's doing what works | 0 comments

Casey_reportThe Annie E. Casey Foundation on April 1 released a sobering–often times disturbing–report detailing the extreme challenges facing children of color as they grow to adulthood. “Race for Results” minces no words: African-American, American Indian and Latino kids confront “some of the biggest obstacles on the pathway to opportunity.”

That conclusion is based on a careful and comprehensive look at 12 factors most likely to affect a child’s success in life, such as a normal weight at birth, achieving reading proficiency at fourth grade, completing high school on time and living in a two-parent home. The report provides both a national average for these indicators and offers scores for children by racial group: African American, American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino and White.

The report certainly will make for hard reading for anyone who shares the belief stated in its opening pages that our children deserve “a bright future” and one built on “a solid foundation of education and development in their early years, excellent health care, high school graduation, a good college education and a career path that launches them toward lifelong achievement and economic self-sufficiency.” For many children these factors are sorely lacking as they progress through life.  When you combine the report’s eye-opening findings with its reasonable recommendations, it’s clear that the choice facing us a nation is a simple one. Do we wring our hands over the depressing numbers or do we start today on a path that will have us ringing bells in just a few years?

Screenshot 2014-04-09 10.24.51That said, the best way to look at the report is how the Casey Foundation positions it in its concluding pages. As the authors state: “We believe when we revisit and update these indicators in the next few years, we can report improved results.”

That optimism is based on four four things — all reasonable, well-grounded and thoughtful action steps — that need to occur starting right now:

Future decisions about the kinds of programs and policies meant to serve children need to be “guided by comprehensive, regularly updated data.” In particular, the report stresses that more data collection and analysis is needed that accounts for racial and ethnic data, rather than relying on data reported for whole populations or as aggregates, as is frequently done now. Relying on disaggregated data can help develop “strategies that eliminate racial disparities and that lead to improved child and family outcomes for all.”

African-American children are at the very bottom of the rankings, with a rating of (345 out of a possible 1,000). American Indians and Latinos do slightly better, at 387 and 404, respectively. After that, there’s a considerable gap between those racial groups in the lower rankings and Whites, who score 704 and Asian and Pacific Islander children who top the charts at 776.

Decision makers need to rely on data collection and analyses that will help them determine how different actions will affect different racial and ethnic groups, a process that can help make better informed and targeted investments and ones that will “maximize equity and minimize negative unintended consequences.”

Greater emphasis should be placed on developing and implementing programs that already show evidence of success or even promise for improving outcomes for children of youth and color, a counter to the current trend in which “resources of public systems serving children and families are spent on programs that lack evidence.” The report also recommends increased investment in programs “too new or too innovative to be fully studied” but that are showing promise.

Along with efforts to strengthen the economies of communities of color, economic inclusion strategies are needed, especially those that “explicitly connect vulnerable groups to new jobs…that are high quality ones that offer family supporting wages, benefits and opportunities for growth.”

The “Race for Results” is on.

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