Almost a decade after the onset of the Great Recession, children of color and children of immigrant families still face persistent barriers to opportunity and well-being, a report from the finds.
The report, (27 pages, PDF), measures how children from different racial backgrounds are faring on the path to opportunity. Based on a composite index score comprising a set of twelve key indicators — including birthweight, enrollment in early childhood education, reading and math proficiency, high school graduation rates, and parents' educational attainment — the report found that no one racial group has all children meeting all milestones and that significant disparities among racial groups persist, with African-American children nationally registering a composite score of 369 (out of a possible 1,000), followed by Native-American children (413), Latino/a children (429), white children (713), and Asian-American and Pacific Islander children (783). At the state level, African-American children faced some of the greatest barriers in nearly all states but especially in the South and Midwest, while Native-American children in South Dakota had the lowest index score (220) of any group in any state.
The report also found that among children in immigrant families — 88 percent of whom are U.S. citizens — 84 percent are children of color, including 54 percent Latino/a, 17 percent Asian and Pacific Islander, and 8 percent black children. In addition, one in four children in immigrant families lives below the federal poverty line, while the median income for immigrant families with children is 20 percent lower than that of non-immigrant families. At the same time, the study found that 80 percent of children in immigrant families lived in two-parent households, compared with 65 percent of those in non-immigrant families, and that comparable percentages were enrolled in early childhood education programs (59 percent) as those in non-immigrant families (60 percent).
The report's recommendations include making sure that child well-being is given priority in immigrant enforcement decisions; that policies which support welcoming and healthy school environments are adequately funded; and that more resources are devoted to increasing economic opportunities for parents of color.
"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, director of racial and ethnic equity and inclusion at the Casey Foundation. "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."