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Report: MO could do better to ensure children’s well-being

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(Missouri News Service) – A new report examined children’s well-being in every state and found in Missouri, the outcomes vary greatly depending on race.

In its “Race for Results” report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzed indicators of child well-being by race, from early childhood education to family resources. It ranked Missouri roughly in the middle among states but the rankings by race or ethnicity range from 14th for Asian and Pacific Islander children to 40th for white children.

Tracy Greever-Rice, Kids Count program director for the Missouri Family and Community Trust, said it is consistent with historic trends.

“White children actually have gone up in terms of the percent in poverty, whereas Asian children — who also do the best in the ‘Race for Results’ report — are the only group that is actually improving, in terms of the percent of that racial group in poverty,” Greever-Rice reported.

In Missouri, the report ranks Latino children 15th for well-being compared to other states, and 38th for Black children. Greever-Rice added although multiracial children are showing improvement in areas like poverty, the takeaway from the report is vulnerable groups continue to experience worse outcomes. It said the larger economy and public policy decisions affect children differently based on their race and ethnicity.

Greever-Rice pointed to the census collection of ethnicity data shows trends improving for some groups but not others. She argued it is important to understand how race definitions change over time, and the impact of measuring this data.

“This is the first ‘Race for Results’ that used the U.S. Census Bureau’s categorization of two or more races,” Greever-Rice observed. “We changed in the 2020 decennial census how we asked people to identify, in terms of race categories, and I really think that’s having an impact.”

She added to help children of all races, it is important for Missouri to implement evidence-based best practices, which have shown results in other places.