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New Report: Wisconsin Worst in the Nation for African-American Children

PHOTO: Ken Taylor of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families says a new reporting ranking Wisconsin as dead last in the status of African-American children is a call to take action for change. (Photo from WCCF)
PHOTO: Ken Taylor of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families says a new reporting ranking Wisconsin as dead last in the status of African-American children is a call to take action for change. (Photo from WCCF)
April 1, 2014

MADISON, Wis. - A new policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that children of color face huge barriers in nearly every category of well-being, and the status of African-American children in Wisconsin is the worst in the nation. The "Race for Results" report says kids of color are off-track in many key areas of success, and in nearly every region of the nation.

Ken Taylor, executive director, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, said there's a reason why Wisconsin is on the bottom, along with Michigan and Mississippi.

"The lack of success and the challenges that they face are hidden in our broader success as a state, because generally we're considered a good place for a kid to be growing up," Taylor said. "There's a lack of awareness of the challenges that our African-American kids face."

The report bases its rankings on 12 indicators that measure a child's success in each stage of life from birth to adulthood. It points out that by 2018, children of color will represent the majority of children in the U.S., and that our future prosperity depends on our ability to prepare all children to achieve their full potential.

The report shows a wide disparity between Wisconsin's white children and their nonwhite peers. The state ranked 10th best in the nation for white children, but dead last for African-American children. Taylor said the dead-last ranking is unacceptable, and urged the state to make an immediate, urgent, long-term commitment to change the situation.

"We need to be focusing on family-supporting jobs for parents, and high-quality education for the kids - particularly high-quality early care and education," Taylor stressed. "The research shows that investing in high-quality early education has a big return on investment."

Wisconsin ranks 17th for Latino children and 37th for Asian children, according to the report.

Taylor pointed to a report his group put out a few months ago, entitled "Race to Equity," which revealed that black/white disparities in prosperous and progressive Dane County were among the worst in the nation. He said a dialogue is under way about the problem of racial equity and now is the time for action to change this situation, to ensure a better future for all our children.

The Casey Foundation report is available at www.aecf.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI