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Report Details Obstacles to Success for Kids of Color

PHOTO: A new Annie E. Casey Foundation report on obstacles to success facing children of color finds only 41-percent of Arizona Latino children ages 3 to 5 are enrolled in pre-school or kindergarten. CREDIT: University of California
April 1. 2014
PHOTO: A new Annie E. Casey Foundation report on obstacles to success facing children of color finds only 41-percent of Arizona Latino children ages 3 to 5 are enrolled in pre-school or kindergarten. CREDIT: University of California

PHOENIX - According to Census Bureau projections, by 2018, children of color will represent a majority of kids in the United States. By 2030, the majority of the American labor force will be people of color. But a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation measures major obstacles to success for children of color, including poverty, substandard housing, underfunded schools, lack of health insurance.

According to the Foundation's associated director Laura Speer, decisions made by society are treating kids in different ways, and there's still a racial component to it.

"There's an unfortunate legacy of discrimination in our country that plays itself out in investments happening in communities, and how those decisions are being made about where investments are targeted, and the amount of money that goes into schools in particular communities," she said.

Speer said children of color are more likely to be kicked out of school, to be racially profiled, arrested and serve longer sentences for the same offenses.

The Race for Results index measures 12 indicators for success. Arizona scores for Latino, American Indian and African American children are far lower than for whites and Asians.

One of the report's statistics that "really jumped out" at Joshua Oehler, research associate at the Children's Action Alliance, was that only 41 percent of three- to five-year-old Arizona Latino children are enrolled in pre-school or kindergarten.

"So that was the lowest among all the racial groups in Arizona, and across the country there were only three states that had a lower participation rate," Oehler noted.

For Joseph Garcia, director of ASU's Morrison Institute Latino Public Policy Center, the number-one success strategy for children of color is education, including an expectation for education beyond high school.

"Because then that affects everybody. It raises everyone's standard of living. It allows greater infrastructure. It allows people not taking from the system, but putting into the system. It creates better lives," Garcia asserted.

Joshua Oehler said he hopes the report will start a discussion of how to deal with the ongoing racial disparities affecting children.

"It's such a delicate subject to talk about, so just bringing it up and being able to get people together from all backgrounds and figure out ways to get rid of those disparities, I think, is a really good continuing step to make progress."

The Casey Foundation's associated director Laura Speer said children of color are "going to be the future work force of the United States, so there's a really critical imperative to look at (these issues) now and to see what we can do to improve" their prospects for success.

The full report is at AECF.org.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ