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Study: Layers of Disadvantage Weigh Heavy on IL Minority Kids

March 24, 2008

Chicago, IL – For kids, being poor in Illinois is about more than just the money, according to a new report from the Harvard School of Public Health. The research shows that of all children in poverty, kids who are Black or Latino are the most likely to also live in low-quality neighborhoods. The national study found the association between poverty, color and poor neighborhoods to be the highest in Chicago.

Study author Dolores Acevedo-Garcia says low-quality neighborhoods mean substandard housing, high rates of crime, limited access to grocery stores with healthy food, and school districts with fewer resources.

"We focus on neighborhood conditions because neighborhoods are a very important foundation for healthy development."

Layers of disadvantage are hard for kids to cut through on the way to adulthood, and Acevedo-Garcia says most don't.

"When you have these multiple layers of disadvantage, these factors influence kids not only during childhood, but even beyond childhood."

For example, another recent study, by the Children's Defense Fund, reports that one in three Black boys born in 2001, and one in six Latino boys, will end up in prison as adults.

Acevedo-Garcia believes helping the next generation get a better footing in the world will take coordination of expertise in health policy, housing issues and education funding.

The Harvard study appears in the current edition of the journal "Health Affairs" online at

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - IL