New KIDS COUNT® Data Snapshot Reveals 40 percent of African American Kids in the District of Columbia Live in High-Poverty Neighborhoods

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New KIDS COUNT® Data Snapshot Reveals 40 percent of African American Kids in the District of Columbia Live in High-Poverty Neighborhoods


I wanted to be sure you didn't miss the Annie E. Casey Foundation's recent KIDS COUNT® data snapshot that shares the latest data — for the nation and each state — on children growing up in high-poverty areas. 

Children Living in High-Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods highlights that although the number of children living in areas of concentrated poverty (census tracts with overall poverty rates of 30% or more) fell as the nation recovered from the Great Recession, the total remains far too high: more than 8.5 million, or 12%, of all kids. Here in the District of Columbia, 25 percent of children and youth live in high poverty areas.

Also noted are two important factors, geographic location and race and ethnicity, that shape a child’s risk of living in concentrated poverty. Living in areas of concentrated poverty — and missing out on safe and healthy opportunities to learn, play and grow — is a reality for far too many kids. And, race matters: African-American and American Indian children are seven times more likely than white kids to live in high-poverty neighborhoods. 

The Snapshot reveals that while the District of Columbia saw modest decreases in the share of children in concentrated poverty from 2008–12 to 2013–17, 40 percent of African American children in live in high-poverty neighborhoods, a percentage which has held steady since 1990. 

I believe we must leverage this alarming data to talk openly about the persistent racial disparities in outcomes for our children and youth. Only then can we address historical inequities by breaking down structural barriers and intentionally provide targeted resources for children living in communities that have faced divestment for decades. 

The Report calls on policy, business and philanthropic leaders to act now to boost housing options and spur economic growth for the families who call these communities home.

This KIDS COUNT® data snapshot also reminds us how accurate data are necessary for making sound policy and addressing child poverty and racial disparities. The 2010 census missed approximately 5,000 young children in the District, which has implications for planning around schools and neighborhood assets. The upcoming 2020 census will play a vital role in addressing some of the persistent challenges of poverty; however, it will be essential that the District make every effort to gather all responses, especially those from low-income households. According to the data available, 20 percent of D.C. residents live in hard-to-count areas. The stakes are high: 55 major federal programs, including Head Start and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, allocate more than $6 billion to the District of Columbia each year based on census data.

Later this month, DC Action for Children will release a digital outreach tool kit with resources you can share to help raise awareness among parents, grandparents, and guardians about the importance of counting the children and youth residing with them as they complete their Census questionnaire.

October 14, 2019