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Indiana Needs to Improve Well-Being for Children

More than 70 percent of African-American and 67 percent of Hispanic youth live in low-incomehouseholds. (Gia Smith)
More than 70 percent of African-American and 67 percent of Hispanic youth live in low-income
households. (Gia Smith)
October 24, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows Indiana has to work harder to improve outcomes for African-American and Hispanic kids in order to make sure they have successful futures.

The "2017 Race for Results" report scores states on how different racial/ethnic groups of children are progressing when it comes to education, health and economic well-being.

Tami Silverman, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, says when children aren't taken care of, the entire state suffers.

"When we talk about the well-being of kids that means all of Indiana's kids, all Hoosier kids," she says. "It's in all of our best interest to make sure each and every child is getting the support they need to reach their full potential."

In Indiana, 72 percent of African-American and 67 percent of Hispanic youths live in low-income households, compared with less than 40 percent of white and Asian children.

While Indiana typically scores above national averages in education, the data shows the numbers are uneven across minority groups. Ninety percent of Indiana's African-American eighth-graders and 85 percent of the state's English-language Learners are not proficient in math, compared with 55 percent of white eighth graders.

Silverman says it's not just up to educators and policymakers to make sure kids do well; community members can also make a difference.

"We can ask at our schools," she adds. "What are their inclusion policies? What are their equity policies? What are we doing for students in the margins? In addition, we need to be asking the Chamber of Commerce, we need to ask the City Councils, because the more we have these conversations, the greater the opportunities for change."

On a positive note, the data shows 55 percent of African-American children, ages three to five years
old, are enrolled in either a nursery school, preschool or kindergarten program. That's the third-highest percentage among racial groups in the state.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN