Significant racial disparities remain despite progress

INDIANAPOLIS — The percent of children living in concentrated poverty in Indiana is decreasing, according to “Children Living in High-Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods,” a new KIDS COUNT® data snapshot released Sept. 24, 2019, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Using the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, the snapshot examines where concentrated poverty has worsened across the country, despite a long period of national economic expansion—comparing 2008-2012 and 2013-2017.

According to the snapshot, 10 percent (160,000) of Hoosier children live in concentrated poverty, which is a neighborhood where 30 percent or more of the population is living in poverty. Indiana’s percentage dropped from a high of 13 percent in 2011-2015.

Regionally, Indiana and Illinois are tied for the lowest percent of children living in concentrated poverty compared to neighboring states.

The snapshot arrives the same week as new American Community Survey poverty data, which found 18 percent of Indiana’s kids lived in poverty in 2018, compared to 18.4 percent in 2017.

“This is good news, but there is more work to do to ensure all Hoosier children can thrive,” said Tami Silverman, president and CEO of Indiana Youth Institute. “We must understand the disparities in the data and work together to improve the conditions that foster the success of all children.”

Growing up in a community of concentrated poverty is one of the greatest risks to child development. Alarmingly, more than 8.5 million children live in these settings. That’s nearly 12 percent of all children in the United States. Children in high-poverty neighborhoods tend to lack access to healthy food and quality medical care, and they often face greater exposure to environmental hazards, such as poor air quality, and toxins, such as lead. Financial hardships and fear of violence can cause chronic stress linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. And when these children grow up, they are more likely to have lower incomes than children who have relocated away from communities of concentrated poverty.

The “Children Living in High-Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods” snapshot shows that although progress is being made, significant racial disparities remain:

  • Nationally, African American and American Indian children are seven times more likely to live in poor neighborhoods than white children, and Latino children are nearly five times more likely, largely as a result of legacies of racial and ethnic oppression as well as present-day laws, practices and stereotypes that disproportionately affect people of color.
  • Thirty-four percent of Black or African American children in Indiana live in concentrated poverty. That’s more than any other reported demographic. Nationally, Black or African American children and American Indian or Alaska Native children are the most likely to live in concentrated poverty at 28 percent each.
  • Black or African American children in Indiana are more than six times as likely to live in concentrated poverty compared to Non-Hispanic white children; 34 percent compared to 5 percent, respectively.
  • Asian or Pacific Islander and Non-Hispanic white children in Indiana live in concentrated poverty less than 10 percent of the time.

To read the snapshot, visit the Annie E. Casey Foundation website.