Every State is Failing to Equip All Kids for Success, Especially Children of Color, Says New Report

Despite improve­ments in many key mea­sures, the Unit­ed States is still fail­ing its chil­dren, espe­cial­ly kids of col­or, as too many chil­dren are blocked from reach­ing essen­tial mile­stones of well-being. Wide and per­sis­tent dis­par­i­ties are hin­der­ing Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native, Black and Lati­no young peo­ple in par­tic­u­lar, and all chil­dren in every state gen­er­al­ly. This could have poten­tial­ly dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences for the coun­try, accord­ing to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2024 Race for Results® report.

“We need chil­dren of every race and eth­nic­i­ty to grow up ready to pro­vide the tal­ent, intel­lect and hard work that will make our coun­try strong and pros­per­ous,” says Leslie Boissiere, vice pres­i­dent of exter­nal affairs at the Casey Foun­da­tion. ​“This coun­try of great abun­dance, cre­ativ­i­ty and pos­si­bil­i­ty can — and must — make bet­ter pol­i­cy choic­es to elim­i­nate the bar­ri­ers kids face.”

The report’s Race for Results index stan­dard­izes scores across 12 indi­ca­tors that rep­re­sent well-being mile­stones from cra­dle to career, con­vert­ing them into a scale rang­ing from 0 to 1,000 to make it easy to com­pare and see dif­fer­ences across states and racial and eth­nic groups. The 2024 index also intro­duces a new group — chil­dren of two or more races — who now make up 5% of the U.S. child pop­u­la­tion. Nation­al index scores ranged from 386 for Black chil­dren to 771 for Asian and Pacif­ic Islander chil­dren. Cal­cu­la­tions of the index for all 50 states show that expe­ri­ences vary wide­ly depend­ing on where a child lives, from a high of 877 for Asian and Pacif­ic Islander chil­dren in New Jer­sey to a low of 180 for Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native chil­dren in South Dakota.

A sam­pling of oth­er key points:

  • Read­ing and math scores tum­bled dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. In 2022, only a third of all fourth graders were pro­fi­cient in read­ing. The fig­ure was about 1 in 6 for Black (16%) and Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native (18%) and 1 in 5 Lati­no (20%) children.
  • On pover­ty, between 2007-11 and 2017–21, there were gains among every demo­graph­ic group, but too many fam­i­lies still strug­gle to make ends meet. More than half of Black (58%), Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native (57%) and Lati­no (53%) kids live below 200% of the fed­er­al pover­ty level.
  • Liv­ing in immi­grant fam­i­lies can have a mixed effect, with chil­dren gen­er­al­ly more like­ly to be born at a nor­mal birth weight, but less like­ly to be pro­fi­cient in read­ing and math.
  • There are bright spots. In 2017–21, the share of chil­dren liv­ing in low-pover­ty neigh­bor­hoods increased for all demo­graph­ic groups com­pared with 2007-11, with a jump of 12 per­cent­age points for Lati­no children.


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