L/SFR Sneak Peek: Panel Says Children Face Economic Challenges That Impact Well-Being

May 3, 2011 | By Liza Casabona | Post a Comment

(This article was excerpted from the May 9 issue of Local/State Funding Report.) The composition of the nation’s children is changing rapidly as economic, demographic and social factors reshape the population, and the changes are increasing pressure on public policy and services to meet a new set of needs.

At a recent panel sponsored by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), experts talked about the increasing challenges faced by today’s children, and called into question whether the United States still qualifies as the “land of opportunity” for all of them.

For low-income and middle-class children, government-funded early education and health insurance are increasingly important, said Dr. Donald Hernandez, a sociology professor at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

“An enormous gap in well-being” separates low-income children from middle- and high-income ones, and there are strong patterns of racial and ethnic disparities as well as disparities between native-born and immigrant children, Hernandez said.

For the years 1985 through 2008, the Child Well-Being Index shows a score for high-income children that hovers between 150 and 160. Middle-class children’s score on the index is between approximately 110 and 120. Low-income children lag far behind, coming in just under 40, despite an improvement in their index score around 2000. Hernandez noted that well-being is lower for black and Hispanic children than for white children, and that children in immigrant families are likely to have a lower well-being score than native-born children.

Stay tuned for other “Sneak Peeks” into upcoming stories from the Local/State Funding Report. Subscribers: check your next issue for the full story about the increasing economic and social challenges reshaping the experience of U.S. children.

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