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Report Examines How Racial Divides Affect Kids in WA, US

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PHOTO: Washington needs to do a better job planning for a more diverse population and workforce, says a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that examines racial inequities in education and child well-being. Photo credit: Microsoft Images.
PHOTO: Washington needs to do a better job planning for a more diverse population and workforce, says a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that examines racial inequities in education and child well-being. Photo credit: Microsoft Images.
April 2, 2014

SEATTLE - Doors of opportunity may open or close for kids starting in early childhood depending on their race or ethnic background, and a new report examines those racial differences by state.

In Washington, it says, children who are white or from some Asian/Pacific Islander subgroups fare far better than those who are black, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native.

Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children's Alliance, sees the report as more evidence that the state needs to make education and early learning much bigger budget priorities.

"We know what works," he said. "We just need the public and political will to put in place those solutions, and make sure that they're targeted solutions, to the children who are furthest away from opportunity."

The Annie E. Casey Foundation report examines 12 benchmarks of child well-being by race, from reading proficiency to graduating on time and family poverty. In Washington, it says, children of color are almost twice as likely to be at a disadvantage in these areas, compared with white kids, or some subgroups of Asian/Pacific Islanders.

The report makes the case that narrowing the differences is critical in light of the nation's changing demographics. According to the Census Bureau, the majority of children in the United States will be children of color in just four years.

That's why investing in the next generation means embracing diversity, said Laura Speer, an associate director with the Casey Foundation.

"We think it's a really critical time for the country to focus on improving outcomes for these kids," she said, "since they really are going to be the future success of the country."

The report recommends taking steps to improve racial equity in the juvenile justice system, a greater focus on high-quality early-childhood education, and more workforce development.

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

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA