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Report: Black Children Lag In Overall Well-Being

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) - A report by a private foundation finds the well-being of Michigan’s white children slightly below the national average while black children significantly lag the nation.

The findings are part of a Kids Count index released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report titled “Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children” says Michigan has the third-lowest score for the overall well-being of black children. White kids ranked 32nd out of 50.

The report is based on 12 key milestones and conditions for children across racial and ethnic groups, including babies born at normal birth weight, proficient or higher scores on math and reading tests, on-time high school graduation, delaying child-bearing until adulthood and living in low-poverty areas. Officials say the report should serve as a scorecard and catalyst for policymakers on children’s progress.

Michigan had the third lowest state score (244) in the nation for the overall well-being of African-American children — only one point better than Mississippi (243) and barely higher than Wisconsin (238). The stakes are high as one of every six children in Michigan is African American.

“These results show starkly different conditions in our state for children of different races and places,”’ Jane Zehnder-Merrell, director of the Kids Count in Michigan project, said in a statement. “Our state and local policymakers must focus on strategies to increase opportunities for families with children in all racial/ethnic groups to have better outcomes and conditions.”

Overall, the index shows that at the national level, no one racial group has all children meeting all milestones.

Using a scale of one to 1,000, nationally Asian and Pacific Islander children have the highest index score at 776 followed by white children at 704. Scores for Latino (404), American-Indian (387) and African American (345) children are distressingly lower.

Similar to the national results, Michigan’s Asian children scored the highest (787), followed by whites (668), American Indians (501), Hispanic/Latinos (411) and African Americans (244). The indices for Asian, American Indian and Hispanic/Latinos in Michigan were better than those of their national counterparts.

The overall well-being of Asian and white children in Michigan was roughly triple that of African American children, but that of white children fell slightly below their national counterparts by six points. More distressing was the 100-point shortfall for conditions facing the state’s African American children compared with their national counterparts.

The index measures success at each stage of childhood, as well as the economic and social context for children’s lives from birth to adulthood. The indicators were grounded in the goal that all children should grow up in economically successful families, live in supportive communities and meet developmental, health and educational milestones. To compare results across the areas in the index, the indicators are grouped into four areas: early childhood; education and early work; family supports; and neighborhood context.

The report demonstrates how much state averages mask the dramatically different outcomes and conditions experienced by children of diverse races/ethnicity. For example, the state average hardly varied from the national average on almost all indicators.

In contrast, eight of the 12 outcomes and conditions for the state’s African American children were substantially worse than those of their national counterparts. Of most concern, the percentage of the state’s African American children living in low-poverty neighborhoods (poverty rates less than 20 percent) were the worst in the nation: 30 percentage points below the national average—worse than Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Opportunities for Michigan’s white children were ranked 34th among the 50 states with scores falling behind their national counterparts in many key areas:

• Percent fourth graders proficient in reading
• Percent eighth graders proficient in math
• Young adults ages 25-29 with an associate’s degree or more
• Children living above 200% of the federal poverty level (roughly $37,000 for a family of three and $47,000 for a family of four)

The three indicators where at least three racial/ethnic groups in the state compared poorly with the national average were all in the area of education:

• Percent fourth graders proficient in reading
• Percent eighth graders proficient in math
• High school students graduating on time

On the other hand, children in three of Michigan’s racial/ethnic groups were more likely to live with a householder who had at least a high school diploma than their national counterparts.

For more information or to see detailed study results, visit www.datacenter.kidscount.org.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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