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Report: Racial Divide Affects NC Children's Opportunity

PHOTO: A new report compares how children are progressing on key milestones by state, across racial and ethnic groups. It says North Carolina has some work to do to improve opportunities for children of color. Photo courtesy Kids Count.
PHOTO: A new report compares how children are progressing on key milestones by state, across racial and ethnic groups. It says North Carolina has some work to do to improve opportunities for children of color. Photo courtesy Kids Count.
April 3, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina ranks in the bottom half of states for preparing their children for success later in life, particularly children from diverse racial backgrounds.


A new report
by the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds North Carolina's white children rank in 28th place, and African American kids are 27th, compared with their peers nationwide. The situation is more dire for Latino children, who rank 46th in the country for progress on a dozen indicators of future success.

Rob Thompson, with the group NC Child, says the report proves how important it is to level the field.

"We know that North Carolina, like the rest of the country, is going to have a majority of children of color in the very near future," says Thompson. "Our future prosperity as a state depends on how well we prepare all children."

The Casey Foundation compared racial groups' progress between states and, across the board, found white children had fewer barriers to opportunity.

The Census Bureau predicts children of color will represent a majority of children in the United States by 2018 and, by 2030, the majority of the country's labor force will be non-white.

Laura Speer, associate director at the Casey Foundation, says this underscores the importance of creating opportunities for all kids to succeed - particularly for children of color.

"They're going to be the future workforce 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," says Speer.

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.

And Pam Dowdy, executive director of Wake County's "Smart Start" program, says not all of the news is bad for North Carolina's children.

"We're making great progress in terms of children's school readiness, the quality of childcare that children are in, and the number of children who are getting adequate health care, especially low-income children," Dowdy says.

The Casey Foundation says the racial and ethnic data in its Race for Results report can be used to help close the achievement gap by influencing programs and policy decisions to create the greatest impact for children of color.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC