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Report: Economic, Educational Gaps in Arkansas for Children of Color

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation encourages public policies designed to keep immigrant families together. (GettyImages)
A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation encourages public policies designed to keep immigrant families together. (GettyImages)
October 24, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new report finds significant disparities in public policies for children of color and those in immigrant families compared with other groups in Arkansas and across the country.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2017 Race for Results report measures key milestones in childhood development across racial and ethnic groups at both the national and state level.

Rich Huddleston, director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, says that Arkansas needs to close the social and economic gap between children of color and other groups now before it widens in another generation.

"If Arkansas really wants to succeed economically, we need to have a greater investment in programs that we know will promote the development of all kids," he says. "By doing that, we will also help children of immigrant parents but also our minority kids."

Huddleston says Arkansas has wide racial and ethnic disparities in family incomes, with 76 percent of the state's Hispanic children living in low-income families, compared with 44 percent of non-Hispanic white children. He says the report finds that Hispanic children in Arkansas are more likely to live at or near the poverty line than their peers in any other state.

Study co-author Laura Speer, the associate director of policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation says the report pays special attention to the obstacles facing children in immigrant families.

"There are more than 18 million children who are themselves immigrants or who have at least one parent who was born outside of the country," she notes. "That's about one in four kids. Their success is really very closely connected to the future success of our country."

She says lawmakers and other public officials need to strengthen policies that make communities more supportive and healthy for families.

"It's really important to focus on policies and programs that improve opportunities for low-income workers and address the needs of parents and kids," she explains. "These folks are not just workers, they're also parents."

The report's recommendations include keeping families together and in their communities, helping children meet key developmental milestones and increasing economic opportunities for parents.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR