K'won Watson

Wisconsin has the largest gap in well-being between black children and white children in the nation, according to a report released Tuesday.

AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

African-American children in Wisconsin are facing the biggest gap across the nation in well-being compared to their white counterparts, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Race for Results report, prepared by nonprofit The Annie E. Casey Foundation, used 12 indexes to determine the overall well-being of children across the United States based on a composite score of 1,000. Wisconsin had the biggest disparity between black and white children, the report said.

“This really is a clarion call for action,” said Ken Taylor, executive director of Kids Forward, formerly Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. “We are not going to be successful as a state if we leave an increasing portion of our state behind and further from opportunity.”

Of 44 states for which data was available, Wisconsin ranked 41st for African-American children with a score of 279. Across all states, white Wisconsin children ranked 10th with a well-being score of 762. The 483-point difference was the largest among the 44 states with data for white and black children.

Nationally, the report found a 713 score for white children and 369 for black children.

“When you break it down by race and ethnicity … you can see that we have these substantial challenges,” Taylor said.

The score was generated from statistics such as high school students graduating on time, children who live in a two-parent household and kids between ages 3 and 5 who are enrolled in a pre-kindergarten program.

Neighboring states Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan were also among the top five states with the largest well-being gaps between white and black children.

While Wisconsin is frequently ranked toward the top in The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count report that measures overall well-being regardless of race or ethnicity — this year the Badger State was 12th — Taylor said that report “ends up masking the challenges we have with our kids of color.”

In the Race for Results report, Wisconsin ranked 7th out of 26 states at a score of 520 for American Indian children; 40th out of 43 states at 651 for Asian children; and 21st of 49 states at 439 for Latino children.

Only 24 percent of Wisconsin African-American children live in an economically stable condition, a household earning 200 percent or more than the federal poverty level, according to the report.

The same factor also applies to 30 percent of Latino children, 31 percent of Hmong children, 36 percent of American Indian children and 72 percent of white children in the state, the report said.

Taylor noted that some indexes in the report are troubling for all children, such as fourth-grade reading proficiency, where all races were below 50 percent in 2015.

To reduce gaps between children of color and white children, Taylor said state leaders should focus on beefing up educational opportunities at all levels and providing family-supporting jobs that offer good wages and health and family leave.

“We need to invest in kids through high-quality education at all levels, from cradle to career,” he said.

The report released Tuesday is the second Race for Results survey the foundation has released and is based on data between the years 2013 and 2015.

In 2014, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its first Race for Results report. But comparison between the two reports cannot be made as some of the indexes changed.

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