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Education Desk: How Children Are Faring Across Racial & Ethnic Groups


Florida’s population’s slated to grow to 21 million by 2020. The majority of that growth will be people of color, many children. That’s according to a new Annie E. Casey Foundation report. It shows children in many racial and ethnic groups in Florida are disproportionately affected by poverty.

Florida KIDS COUNT Director Norín Dollard has the details and spoke with 90.7's Crystal Chavez.

Dollard: Several years ago in 2014, the Casey KIDS COUNT Foundation decided to look at the effects of race and ethnicity and to start to investigate whether there were disparities in child well-being between various racial and ethnic groups. And indeed they did find that there were differences.

I believe it actually triggered a larger movement within the Casey Foundation to be very much more intentional about talking about race and ethnicity, talking about the differences between the welfare of white children and children of color.

Chavez: This study says the well-being of Hispanic children in Florida ranks ninth nationwide, that doesn't sound negative but you say a closer look paints a darker picture?

Dollard: It is true. That we are ninth in the nation but when you look at the actual score that Hispanic children receive it's 524. Which is really only average; I think the message there is that Hispanic children no matter where they live in the United States are not doing as well as white children, and they're doing relatively well in Florida in comparison to other states, but in the grand scheme of things, they're still only about average.

Chavez: How are African American children faring in the Sunshine State?

Dollard:  Not well, as you can see in that case clearly with the rank of 28th across the states. And I should note there are a few states that did not report, there just aren't enough numbers for children, African American children, black children, never the less out of  forty, we're 28th and that probably makes it worse and their score is 364 out of a thousand.

Which means, the shorthand is the scores range from zero to a thousand. Five hundred being average, so they're clearly below average with respect to poverty, their parents having adequate employment, health status. They rank behind other children here and across the nation.

Chavez: Parents have been making gains in employment in education so why aren't we seeing a better impact from that?

Dollard: It's true. That we have, that this recession has ended, more parents have education. More parents are getting at least high school diplomas so they're better educated than they ever have been, however the recession has not...the economy has not recovered equally for all groups.

And families are not getting the kinds of jobs that allow them to support their children and they're not getting the kinds of jobs that allow them to get health insurance for themselves and their families.

So that's the difference it's not that the economy hasn't gotten better, it has, it just hasn't gotten better for everyone.

Chavez: How does all of this bode for Florida's economy as a whole?

Dollard: We would do better to, there are some low hanging fruit, things like getting people to take advantage of the earned income tax credit where they haven't, only about 80 percent of Floridians who are eligible actually apply for that benefit, not benefit, apply to get their money back. Things like that, to raise family income are sort of easy fixes. But I think there are more long term strategies that we need to take because employers want a qualified workforce and so if we don't have those kinds of programs and supports for families, we're not going to, you know, attract the types of businesses that can provide those jobs that can support families.