2017 Race for Results Report Reveals Persistent Disparities; Lawmakers Urged to Fund Services that Help Level the Playing Field
OKLAHOMA CITY — Children in immigrant families and children of color in Oklahoma face major obstacles to their success and well-being, according to a new national report. The report, the 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, was released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national partner of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA).
The Race for Results report measures the progress of children of various races, ethnicities and backgrounds in the key areas of education, health and economic security. The report includes information on a national level and by state.
OICA CEO Joe Dorman said the Race for Results data for Oklahoma shows that child well-being needs to be improved within all demographic groups, but that good public policy is particularly important to help address the state’s persistent racial gap.
“Good public schools, access to affordable health care and a strong economy are essential to lifting up all children, but particularly children of color and children of immigrants,” said Dorman. “Unfortunately, recent budget cuts continue to erode the services these children and their families rely on. If we want to improve child well-being in Oklahoma, which all of us should consider a moral imperative, we must restore funding to public schools and the health and mental health services that help families stay together and stay strong.”
The Race for Results report includes an index that uses a composite score of key milestones on scale of 1 (lowest) to 1,000 (highest) to make comparisons. Nationally, the index shows persistent, significant disparities among African-American children (369), American Indian (413) and Latino Children (429) compared to Asian and Pacific Islander (783) and white children (713). Oklahoma slightly out-performs the national average for African-American (374) and American Indian (493) children, but lags behind in measures of well-being for Asian and Pacific Islander (726), Hispanic (380) and white children (622).
Mirroring the national trend, children of color in Oklahoma face a major opportunity gap in education, health and economic success when compared to their white counterparts. The report findings include the following about Oklahoma’s children:
• While standardized test scores are below the national average throughout Oklahoma, African-American and Hispanic children are falling further behind. Only 17 percent of African-American children and 21 percent of Hispanic children in Oklahoma score at or above proficient in reading in fourth grade. Thirty-three percent of American Indian children and 37 percent of white children attain this milestone. High school graduation rates show similar racial disparities.
• African-American children are less likely to be born at a normal birth weight. Eighty-six percent of African-American children are born at a normal birth weight in Oklahoma, compared to approximately 93 percent for all other racial demographics.
• Most children of color in Oklahoma live in low-income households. Sixty-one percent of white children and 59 percent of Asian children live in families earning more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. However, just 29 percent of African-American, 46 percent of American Indian and 31 percent of Hispanic children in Oklahoma live in families earning 200 percent or more of the poverty level. An annual income of $49,200 for a family of four is considered 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
• African-American children are not growing up in two-parent households. Seventy-nine percent of Asian, 73 percent of white, 66 percent of Hispanic and 62 percent of American Indian children in Oklahoma are growing up in two-parent households. Just 36 percent of African-American children in the state live in two-parent households.
The Race for Results report paints a mixed picture for the children of immigrants, who face significant hurdles but continue to benefit from strong families and are finding success as they grow in the workforce and in school.
• Children of foreign-born parents are significantly more likely to live in low-income households. While 53 percent of U.S.-born Oklahoma children live in families earning above 200 percent of the federal poverty level, the same is true of just 35 percent of children of immigrants.
• English-language learners (ELL) are falling behind in school. The sample size for ELL children performing at grade level in both reading and math is too small to measure, meaning the vast majority are underperforming.
• Children in immigrant families have less educated parents. While 90 percent of children in U.S.-born families in Oklahoma have a parent with at least a high school degree, just 57 percent of children in immigrant families do.
• However, immigrant families are more stable than U.S.-born families. While 65 percent of children in U.S.-born families live in two parent households, 80 percent of children in immigrant families live with two parents.
• Despite facing greater levels of poverty, children of foreign born families are closing the career and education gap later in life. Eighty-eight percent of the children of foreign-born families are working or in school as young adults aged 19-26, compared to just 81 percent of children in U.S.-born families. Twenty-six percent of children of foreign-born parents between the ages of 25 and 29 have completed an associate’s degree or higher, compared to 33 percent of the children of U.S.-born adults.
Dorman said the results show that children from immigrant families are overcoming significant obstacles to secure an education, join the workforce and connect with their communities.
“This nation was largely built by immigrants who came here to give their children a better life and more opportunity,” said Dorman. “That is exactly what we are seeing in Oklahoma. We need do everything we can to support that trend and make sure the children of immigrants, who represent the next generation of opportunity and hope, have the tools they need to succeed.”
Dorman said federal officials should continue to work on restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that protects the young children of immigrants from deportation.
“The worst thing we can do is to throw up barriers that would prevent them from entering the workforce or obtaining the degrees they need to find good jobs and careers.”
The 2017 Race for Results report will be available October 24 at 12:01 a.m. EDT at www.aecf.org/raceforresults/. Additional information is available at www.aecf.org/. The website also contains the most recent national, state and local data on numerous indicators of child well-being. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about Race for Results can use the Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org
About the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement is: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”
About the Annie E. Casey Foundation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.