Children of Color in Maine and the Nation Face Extensive Inequities and Barriers to Success

2017 Race for Results report identifies areas where state needs to provide greater opportunities for children of color to reach potential

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation reveals significant opportunities for Maine and the nation to improve the health and well-being of children, especially children in immigrant families and children of color. While the child population in Maine is not as diverse as other states, significant racial disparities exist in educational achievement and family economic security, leading to poorer outcomes for our children of color.

The 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children report underscores the urgent need to strengthen the system and structures in Maine and across the country so all children have the same opportunities to succeed in the classroom and later in life. The report comes at a time when the nation’s lawmakers consider policy changes that will affect the 800,000 young people who have been granted a reprieve from fear of deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

This is the second Race for Results report by the Casey Foundation; the Foundation released the first report in 2014. The report measures children’s progress on the national and state levels on key education, health and economic milestones by racial and ethnic groups. The report’s index uses a composite score of these milestones on a scale of one (lowest) to 1,000 (highest) to make comparisons.

In the United States, the index shows persistent, significant disparities among African-American (369), American Indian (413) and Latino children (429) compared to white (713) and Asian and Pacific Islander children (783).

In Maine, the index reveals significant disparities among African-American children (444) compared to white (698) and Latino (639) children. While Maine had the highest index score for Latino children, Maine ranked 34th for white children. Scores for American Indian and Asian Pacific Islander children in Maine are suppressed due to small numbers.

“When all Maine children have the resources, support and opportunity to thrive, we all benefit,” said Claire Berkowitz, Executive Director of the Maine Children’s Alliance. “This report provides us the opportunity to make sure the policies and practices we support seek to improve the lives of all our children, especially children in immigrant families and children of color.”

 Children living in financially insecure households face additional barriers that hinder healthy evelopment and overall success. The latest data show that only 17 percent of African-American children in Maine live in households with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty level. This contrasts sharply with the 61 percent of non-Hispanic white children living in such households and 42 percent of their Hispanic or Latino peers.

The 2017 Race for Results highlights the urgent need for Maine to make smart investments in evidence-based programs with a track record of success now, so all Maine children and the entire state can reach its full potential later.

“Decades of research show that investing in young children, especially children living in poverty, can yield up to a 13 percent annual return on investment,” Berkowitz said. “This means Maine saves approximately $6 for every $1 invested in improved health, education and overall life outcomes.”

The transition from adolescence into adulthood is difficult for most young people as they begin to take on new roles and responsibilities in this new phase of their lives. With Maine’s population aging, the state’s future vitality depends on keeping its youth educated, healthy and connected to their communities. As they enter adulthood, young people become Maine’s workforce, leaders and parents, and it is critical that they are ready to take on these important roles and responsibilities.

While 87 percent of White young adults ages 19 to 26 in Maine are working or in school, only 77 percent of African-American peers, and 73 percent of their American Indian peers are working or in school. However, 97 percent of Hispanic or Latino young adults are working or in school. The data highlight some gaps where Maine can strengthen policies and program that promote the successful transition from adolescence to adulthood.

The report makes three recommendations to help ensure all children and their families are afforded opportunities to reach their full potential:

  • Keep families together and in their communities — Keeping children with their families enables them to meet developmental milestones and for parents to meet their kids’ needs. For many immigrant families, this means ensuring child well-being is prioritized in immigration enforcement decisions.
  • Help children meet key developmental milestones — Overall child well-being is key to our nation’s future and is influenced by their environments. We must choose policies that make their communities more supportive and healthy, including ensuring schools are welcoming places for all families and are equipped to support the needs of English language learners.
  • Increase economic opportunity for parents — Meaningful programs and policies that improve opportunities for low-income workers, and address the needs of parents and their children, save taxpayers by reducing the costs of safety-net programs. For example, providing paid family leave for employees can help parents, including immigrant parents—who are among the most likely to lack access to leave—to balance work and raising a family.

Release Information

The 2017 Race for Results report will be available October 24 at 12:01 a.m. EDT at www.aecf.org/raceforresults/. Additional information is available at www.aecf.org/. The website also contains the most recent national, state and local data on numerous indicators of child well-being. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about Race for Results can use the Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org.

About the Maine Children’s Alliance

The Maine Children’s Alliance is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for sound public policies and promotes best practices to improve the lives of Maine children, youth and families. www.mekids.org

About the Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.


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