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Report Shows a “Dire” Situation for Ohio Children of Color

April 1, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A new report has revealed an alarming statistic about Ohio: The Buckeye State ranks among the lowest in the nation for the well-being of African-American children. Released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the report compares how children nationwide are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups. It says African-American, American Indian and Latino children are falling behind.

Sarah Biehl, policy director, Children's Defense Fund-Ohio, pointed to big differences between the races, especially in educational attainment.

"Fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math proficiency tests show pretty significant disparities for children of color compared to white children," Beihl said. "If we don't know those disparities exist, we can't design policies specifically to address those disparities."

The report looked at a range of factors across childhood that indicate the probability of a child growing up to become a successful adult. Biehl said the situation is dire for African-American children in Ohio, who are more likely to become teen parents, live in a single-parent household and have fewer opportunities for early-childhood education.

According to Census Bureau projections, by 2018 children of color will represent a majority of children. Casey Foundation Associate Director Laura Speer said the future success of the country depends on improving their outcomes. This is a critical time for leaders to change their perspective and create equitable opportunities for these children, she warned.

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

Biehl added that focusing on the next generation is essential to building Ohio's economy, and these findings can help policy makers as they discuss ways to help all children reach their full potential.

"This just adds another layer to that discussion, to talk about how we can both improve outcomes for all children and maybe direct a few extra resources to ensure that children of color don't continue to get left behind," Biehl said.

The full report, "Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity For All Children," is online at www.AECF.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH