A new report, released this morning by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, finds that while overall Connecticut's children are doing well compared to national standards, the state's black and Hispanic children remain far behind in important development measures. CAHS is the Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT grantee for Connecticut.
The KIDS COUNT® policy report, Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, ranked Connecticut ninth, using a first-of-its-kind index measuring child progress.
The report, which can be viewed here, contains both national and state-level data, and the new Race for Results index has been designed to see how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups. The indicators for the index were chosen based on the goal that all children should grow up in economically successful families, live in supportive communities and meet developmental, health and educational milestones. Examples of the indicators, reported by race, include the percent of babies born at normal birth-weight, the percent of young children enrolled in an early learning program, and the percent of high school students graduating on time. Each state is ranked, from 1 to 50, based on a combined "Race for Results" index score.
Overall, Connecticut ranks 9th in the nation. This high-rank masks the persistent and large disparities between races here in the state. Connecticut's white children ranked third compared to their peers across the 50 states, just behind New Jersey and Massachusetts. Black children ranked 16 out of 46 states in the index, and Connecticut's Hispanic children ranked 24 out of 47 states (in some states the population of black and Hispanic children was too small to provide enough data for comparison).
So while the main driver behind our high ranking is from white children doing very well, black and Hispanic children contribute by doing better than one-half to two-thirds of the rest of the country. The good news, however, is tempered when we look internally and compare the scores between white and minority children, to reveal a stark inequality in Connecticut. The differences in scores places Connecticut 39th (out of 46) when comparing white children to black children , and nearly last (46 out of 47) in the difference between white and Hispanic children.
We believe that the findings of this report highlights a troubling reality in the state -- that children of color are not receiving the same opportunities as their white peers. We also believe that the findings are a call to action, and that the index underscores the need to invest in high quality early childhood education, workforce development programs, and wrap-around supports for low-income and vulnerable parents.
We have prepared a short document that uses the report's indicators to compare Connecticut's children with children nationwide - the chart can be viewed here.
As we continue to follow Governor Malloy's proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $10.10, and the President's effort to do the same on the Federal level, we wanted to share with you some great work that is being done by our friends at the Economic Policy Institute (you can read some of our previous blog coverage on the minimum wage campaign here).
One of the most pervasive myths about the minimum wage (second only to the fear that a raise is a job killer -- in a previous post we shared a number of resources that debunk this misconception) is that it is mostly being earned by teenagers who need spending money. This infographic produced by EPI shows us that this is not the case:
A 2012 analysis produced by EPI told a similar story; in that year EPI determined that if the minimum wage had been raised to $9.80 here in Connecticut over 80% of the effected workforce would have been individuals over age 20.
These minimum wage earners are also disproportionately women. This map from the National Women's Law Center shows that nationally almost two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, while here in Connecticut, women are six out of every ten minimum wage earners.
So as we can see -- a minimum wage increase is a targeted reform that will help women and families in Connecticut, and across the country, move out of poverty and towards economic stability. Continue to follow us here on the blog, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, for updates on the state and federal campaign.
I am having déjà vu, thinking back to last summer, when SNAP (food stamps) was put on the table to pay for emergency funds to states for healthcare and education (FMAP). At the time, we were appalled by the proposed offset, but also knew that once it was on the table, it was up for grabs. If we didn’t at least use it for something else we cared about, who knew what it would end up paying for.
The newest offset to make us feel ill is the House Republican proposal to eliminate eligibility for immigrant families claiming the Child Tax Credit (CTC and ACTC). This is being proposed as a way to offset the cost of extending the payroll tax and unemployment insurance (UI).
While it is politically easier to propose an offset that would impact a population which already carries negative associations and stereotypes, someone needs to set the record straight. Of the 5.5 million children of immigrants living with at least one undocumented parent, 4.5 million are U.S. citizens
and more than half live in low-income families (First Focus). There goes the rumor that the majority of these families are undocumented, and assumed to be abusing the system in some way.
In fact, children of immigrants now comprise roughly one quarter of the nation’s child population, and are more likely to live in poverty than are children of native-born parents (First Focus). Anyone who has children can tell you how expensive they are. Worth every penny of course, but when a baby born in 2009 will cost a middle class family $286,050 by the time the child reaches 18 years of age (USDA), low-income families need our support.
The very credits that are now on the chopping block are the only credits which explicitly address the high cost of raising children, which translates to a higher percentage for low-income families. While families at all income level spend the highest percentage of their income directly on their children, lower-income families spend 25% of their before-tax income on a child; middle-income families spend 16%; and upper-income families spend 12% (USDA).
Studies reveal that an increase of as little as $1000 in family income has been shown to improve children’s test scores by 2% in math and more than 3.5% in reading. When families receive the refundable credit, that raises their effective income (or income that can now be spent on anything, like gas to get them to work, that previously went to pay for the diapers or other high costs incurred when raising a child).
While we need to extend the payroll tax and UI benefits, this is not the way to pay for it. House members need to know how using this offset would hurt families at home, and that no child should have to suffer for someone else to benefit. Congress could learn a lot from watching how well Peter and Paul can play together in the sandbox.