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News Brief

Jan. 22, 2024 |  By: Deborah Van Fleet - Public News Service

Report: Nebraska children of color have less well-being than white peers


By Deborah Van Fleet - Public News Service

On a new report, Nebraska's white children scored high on well-being compared with their peers nationwide - but the same can't be said for the state's children of color.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2024 Race for Results report ranked Nebraska's white children in a tie for eighth place with their peers in Illinois.

However, children in five non-white racial and ethnic groups placed thirtieth or lower on national rankings.

Josh Shirk, Ph.D - research coordinator for Voices for Children in Nebraska - said the report shows improvements nationwide on several of the twelve indicators assessed.

However, he said a higher percentage of children of color in Nebraska and nationwide continue to perform below grade level. Shirk said policies supporting child care and school readiness are crucial.

"Child care is a big issue, and the summer meals programs," said Shirk. "Trying to figure out ways to make sure children are fed and taken care of, because obviously that will help their learning and development."

Race for Results compares well-being from birth to young adulthood for children across racial and ethnic groups.

Out of a possible 1,000 points, Nebraska's white children received 770, Latino children 426, and Black children 353 - less than half the white children's score.

The report concludes that "unacceptable disparities" continue to exist, notably the percentage of children of color growing up in poverty.

Shirk cited the need for more state and national policies that help low-income people - such as expansion of the Child Tax Credit enacted during the pandemic.

"And the research on that was just amazing in terms of lifting children out of poverty," said Shirk. "I think there's a lot more people that are coming around to the idea. And plus, it's a tax credit, and people do use it so that the parents can go and work while the children are in child care."

Leslie Boissiere - vice-president for external affairs at the Annie E. Casey Foundation - said if our country is to prosper, the U.S. needs to develop solutions "targeted to the different racial and ethnic groups."

"The United States is a country of great abundance, and we know how to come together as a community," said Boissiere. "And it's important that we come together at this time to support children in whatever racial and ethnic group that they're in, so that they can all succeed. Because again, that becomes the workforce for the future and what propels our economy. "

This week Congress announced a bill which includes an increase in the Child Tax Credit for qualifying American families.