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Report Grades Massachusetts on Raising its Children

PHOTO: A new report that compares how children are progressing on key milestones by state across racial and ethnic groups shows Massachusetts in the forefront in some cases, lagging in others. Photo courtesy Kids Count.
PHOTO: A new report that compares how children are progressing on key milestones by state across racial and ethnic groups shows Massachusetts in the forefront in some cases, lagging in others. Photo courtesy Kids Count.
April 1, 2014

BOSTON - Massachusetts is in the forefront in some measures of children's development across racial and ethnic groups, but lagging in others, according to a new report.

The report from The Annie E. Casey Kids Count data center shows white children in Massachusetts at the top of a national index of 12 indicators that measure a child's success in each stage of life. African-American children are fifth-best. But Hispanics and Latinos in the Commonwealth came in 29th, with a score below the national average.

According to Noah Berger, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, the results show that roadblocks are still up for some kids.

"This report says that Massachusetts does pretty well, but it also - this Casey Kids Count report - shows that there are big obstacles that stand in the way of too many of our children," Berger declared.

On one measure, nearly 57 percent of white Massachusetts fourth-graders are proficient readers, while only 20 percent of both African-American and Hispanic and Latino children read at that level.

Berger said the study shows a stark difference in the demographics of poverty, with more than 86 percent of the Commonwealth's white children free of its clutches.

"In Massachusetts, a majority of African-American kids and half of all Latino kids are growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods, neighborhoods of concentrated poverty," he said. "And these kids face huge challenges, and they can fall far behind very early in life."

He said one immediate, positive step to cut such poverty would be to raise the minimum wage.

Laura Speer, an associate director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation who is in charge of Kids Count, said that according to Census Bureau projections, by 2018, children of color will represent a majority of American kids.

"They're going to be the future work force of the United States, so there's a really critical imperative to look at this now and to see what we can do to improve it," Speer stated.

Nationwide, the report shows Asian and Pacific Islander children have the highest index scores followed by white children, Latino, American Indian, and African American children.

The full report is at AECF.org.



Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - MA