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Big Gap in CT Kids' Ability to Thrive: Latino Children Lag Behind

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April 2, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. - It's one of the largest gaps in the nation for how kids are progressing. A new national report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds children of color in Connecticut - particularly Latino children - are being left behind.

The new "Race for Results" report finds the state has some work to do to ensure that all children have the chance to thrive regardless of the color of their skin or their ethnic background, said Tamara Kramer, a policy analyst for the Connecticut Association for Human Services.

"Connecticut's disparities between white children and black and Hispanic children are some of the largest in the country," she said. "When it comes to Hispanic children, it's nearly last - it's 46th out of the 47 measured states."

With an overall ranking of 39th in the nation, Kramer said, Connecticut ranks a little better when it comes to the gap between white and African-American children.

Key recommendations include using the report data to target investments so they will yield the greatest improvement for children of color.

Laura Speer, an associate director with the Casey Foundation, said this disparity should concern people of all races. She pointed to Census Bureau projections that show that children of color will represent a majority of American children by 2018.

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

Kramer said the state is making some strides through investments in early education, and credits Gov. Dannel Malloy with committing to expand that investment.

"The number is actually quite good," she said. "Black children are enrolled at a rate of 72 percent, compared to the national average of 63 percent - and I think that really speaks to the success of programs like 'School Readiness.' "

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 report, "Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children," is available online at aecf.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT