Severe disparities in poverty rates continue to hinder child health and education outcomes in the Shreveport-Bossier City-Minden area. Stark gaps in those rates are clearly discernible when race is considered.
Those are among findings of the annual Report to the Community, recently presented by Step Forward, an initiative of Community Foundation of North Louisiana.
The report, unveiled on August 10, was powered by research by Dr. Wesley Hinze, professor of sociology at Bossier Parish Community College. Hinze presented the data to nearly 100 North Louisiana community network partners via a virtual event. Report findings will help drive results for area children.
The research shows African American children and youth are hardest hit, with the current rate of poverty for that demographic at 49.8 percent. That compares to 16.6 percent for White children and youth (those under 18 years of age). For Hispanic or Latino children and youth, the rate stands at a startling 42.3 percent. This large gap in child poverty by race should be considered unacceptable and treated as an emergency.
Both environmental and personal resources are necessary for optimal child development. These resources include sufficient household income, parental support, health care, and protection from harm. When these resources are lacking, the risk for poor outcomes increases.
Disparities in child and youth poverty show up later as differences in adult educational attainment and in the disparate distributions of workers into middle-class occupations. The most recent best estimate of adults with less than a high school diploma is 9 percent for Whites, 18 percent for African Americans, and 28 percent for Latinos. These values fall in between the state and national levels for Whites (11 percent and 7 percent, respectively) and African Americans (20 percent and 14 percent, respectively), and equivalent to the state and less than the national level for Latinos (28 percent and 31 percent, respectively). These levels are on the decline and at the current pace White and African American rates in this attainment category would converge at the current national level for Whites (7 percent) in 2043. Step Forward works to eliminate such disparities.
To access the full report, visit https://cfnla.org/stepforward/.
Step Forward supports a network of partners that rely on it to track and publish data indicators of well-being for children and young adults in this region. The data in the Report to the Community will guide collaborative efforts with partners across Northwest Louisiana to develop solutions designed to get results.
“Step Forward will continue to help connect our communities with resources, while impacting thousands of children and families in communities across Northwest Louisiana,” said Step Forward Special Initiative Director Carla Burgos.
Step Forward convenes community leaders and uses data to illuminate obstacles faced by children of color and those living in poverty. Through a shared vision, Step Forward and its partners use evidence-based decision making and collaborative action to make positive changes for North Louisiana children. For more information, contact Burgos at (318) 221-0582, or at email@example.com.