Mississippi children trail their peers across the country on important indicators of education, health and economic security, according to a new national report released today.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “Race for Results” looks at 12 factors that influence a child’s success – including babies born at normal birthweight, scores of fourth- and eighth-graders on national tests, young adults with higher education degrees and children living in two-parent families, among others.
Data is aggregated by five racial subgroups, allowing for comparisons across groups at the national and state level.
In Mississippi, the data showed a large gap between children who are Asian or white and those who are black or Latino. All four groups trailed the national average.
“It matters because future prosperity in the United States and in Mississippi depends on the success of all children, regardless of where they live or what ethnic or racial group they belong to,” said Linda Southward, director of Mississippi KIDS COUNT.
The composite index uses a scale between one and 1,000, which is the highest score. At the national level, Asian and Pacific Island children had the highest score at 776, followed by scores for white (704), Latino (404), American-Indian (387) and black (345) children.
In Mississippi, Asian children scored 687, followed by white (559), Latino (384) and black (243) children.
Mississippi’s score for its black children was second lowest in the nation, as was its score for its white children.
“I think this really helps policy and decision makers and community members as a blueprint for how things need to change in our state and what opportunities we need to be able to afford all of our children so they will have more positive outcomes,” Southward said.
She cited existing programs working toward that goal, such as an initiative by the Kellogg Foundation to support black male children, an effort by Jackson State University to train more black educators and the community college tuition guarantee program adopted by many Northeast Mississippi counties.
“It really reinforces the importance of early care in education, of early screenings or developmental assessments and really targeting resources to some of our youngest population,” Southward said.
The national report notes that by 2018, children of color will represent a majority of children and that by 2030, a majority of the workforce will be filled by people of color. Thus, it says, the success of all children is important to the nation’s well-being.
“This first-time index shows that many in our next generation, especially kids of color, are off track in many issue areas and in nearly every region of the country,” Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation, said in a press release.
The report asks policy makers to analyze racial and ethnic data to inform decision making, target investments to yield the greatest impact for children of color, develop proven programs focused on improving outcomes for children of color and integrate strategies that connect vulnerable groups to new jobs and opportunities.