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A new interactive mapping tool from diversitydatakids.org allows you to see what opportunities are available to children based on different neighborhoods.
“The Child Opportunity Index measures and maps the conditions children need: safe housing, good schools, access to healthy food, green spaces and clean air, among others,” according to diversitydatakids.org.
The mapping tool highlights the social and health inequities for Latino children and other children of color.
“These conditions are not equitably available to all children in the U.S. Black, Hispanic and Indigenous children disproportionately live in neighborhoods that do not provide all the conditions children need to be healthy and grow into their full potential,” according to diversitydatakids.org.
By highlighting which areas need more assistance and resources, the researchers hope that policymakers can target the children at highest risk to help them succeed and be healthy later in life.
What Does the COI Measure?
The Child Opportunity Index (COI) allows people to see data for children living in over 72,000 census tracts in the U.S.
“Users can also see where children of different racial/ethnic groups live in relation to opportunity, compare opportunity levels nationally, within states or within metropolitan (metro) areas, and explore two time points (2010 and 2015) to understand change over time or set benchmarks to track progress,” according to diversitydatakids.org.
The map indicates three main areas: Education, Health & Environment, and Social & Economic Factors.
The following indicators are measured in those categories:
- Early childhood education centers
- High-quality early childhood education centers
- Early childhood education enrollment
- Third grade reading proficiency
- Third grade math proficiency
- High school graduation rate
- Advanced placement course enrollment
- College enrollment in nearby institutions
- School poverty
- Teacher experience
- Adult educational attainment
Health & Environment
- Access to healthy food
- Access to green space
- Housing vacancy rate
- Hazardous waste dump sites
- Industrial pollutants in air, water or soil
- Airborne microparticles
- Ozone concentration
- Extreme heat exposure
- Health insurance coverage
Social & Economic
- Employment rate
- Commute duration
- Poverty rate
- Public assistance rate
- Homeownership rate
- High-skill employment
- Median household income
- Single-headed households
Comparing a Latino Neighborhood to a White Neighborhood
Using the COI, we can see racial disparities across different communities.
“Opportunity is not distributed equitably across communities. Nationally, 69% of Black children, 59% of Hispanic and 65% of American Indian/Alaska Native children live in very low and low opportunity neighborhoods, while only 25% of White children and 24% of Asian children live in these neighborhoods,” according to diversitydatakids.org.
This is illustrated through the COI data for a predominately Latino, economically segregated city like San Antonio, Texas (65% Latino).
On the north side of San Antonio in the Terrell Hills neighborhood, opportunities are very high for children across education, health & environment, and social & economic factors. This area is also predominately white.
But San Antonio’s West Side is historically low income and predominately Latino. Children in this area are much worse off when it comes to education, health, and economic opportunities.
Latino Kids Face Worse Opportunities
Unfortunately, Latino kids across the country face similar poor opportunities.
“Latino kids have limited access to healthy foods and active spaces. Latino neighborhoods tend to have less access to healthy foods, which negatively affects health, development, academic performance, and overall wellbeing,” according to a Salud America! research review.
As the COI mentions, lack of adequate childcare can have negative impacts later in life, which is common for Latino children.
“42% of kids live in ‘childcare deserts’ with no or overfull early care and education centers. Only 40% of Latino kids participate in preschool programs vs. 53% of white kids. Not participating in a preschool program is a main contributor to poor school readiness,” according to a Salud America! research review.
Thankfully, policymakers can target these areas to improve childhood health and overall wellbeing for Latinos.
How Can We Help Latino Kids?
Every child deserves a safe, healthy home and upbringing.
While children of color are often not given the same opportunities and resources to succeed, we can advocate for health and social equity.
By supporting Latino families with young children, we can make a difference. Research has shown that early childhood programs that focus on boosting school readiness with bilingual literacy that helps stimulate children will help protect Latino kids from future risks. Federal, state, and local governments should allocate funding towards such inclusive childcare programs.
School leaders can also make a difference by prioritizing physical activity and healthy school food. With proper funding, these programs can make a significant difference in the lives of young children.
We can also do our part to advocate for Latino kids and for health equity for all people.
You can help by downloading the Health Equity Report Card from Salud America!
The report card allows you to see what access your community has to healthcare, food, education, and other resources. You can help advocate for your neighbors and present the Health Equity Report Card to your city’s leadership!