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A Snapshot of Child Opportunity Across the U.S.: National Inequity Patterns

January 17, 2020

The Child Opportunity Index (COI) measures and maps the quality of resources and conditions (e.g., good early childhood education centers and schools, green spaces, access to healthy food, low poverty) that matter for children to develop in a healthy way in the neighborhoods where they live. The Index looks at 29 key factors that affect how children experience their neighborhoods in three domains: education, health and environment, and social and economic.The Child Opportunity Index is the first index of neighborhood conditions that specifically focuses on those neighborhood features that help children thrive. The Geography of Child Opportunity report covers all neighborhoods in the 100 largest metro areas—cities and their surrounding suburbs—which are home to 67% of U.S. children. Subsequent reports will include analysis of data for all neighborhoods in the U.S.The Child Opportunity Score ranks all neighborhoods in the U.S. according to their Child Opportunity Index on a scale of 1 to 100. The Child Opportunity Score for a given metro area summarizes the neighborhood opportunity experienced by the typical child in that metro and allows us to make comparisons between metro areas. For example, in Bakersfield, California, the Child Opportunity Score is 20, while in Boston, Massachusetts, the score is 79. These differences indicate that children across the U.S. are growing up in neighborhoods with very different conditions and resources for healthy child development.

The Geography of Child Opportunity: Why Neighborhoods Matter For Equity

January 1, 2020

Neighborhoods matter for children's healthy development. A family's resources affect children's ability to thrive, but the neighborhoods where children grow up are critically important as well. Supportive neighborhood resources and  onditions (e.g., good early childhood education centers and schools, green spaces, and low poverty) can enhancethe effect of protective family factors or mitigate the effects of adverse family factors. This report marks the launch of the Child Opportunity Index 2.0. A stronger and more robust data tool than its predecessor the Child Opportunity Index 1.0, COI 2.0 is the best index of children's contemporary neighborhood opportunity available. We are launching the COI 2.0 data and first findings to support improved understanding of the neighborhoods where our children are growing up today and spur actions to improve neighborhood environment for all children.In 2014, we launched the Child Opportunity Index to provide the first data resource on child opportunity in  neighborhoods across the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. Since then, we have seen growing research evidence and awareness of the effects of neighborhoods on children. We have also witnessed increasing national attention to widening income and wealth inequality and its detrimental consequences for low- and middle-income families, economic growth and social cohesion.Energized by the availability of the Child Opportunity Index and other neighborhoodlevel data, a wide range of users has employed the COI to learn about and improve neighborhood conditions for children in their communities. These diverse COI users include community organizers, non-profit organizations, government agencies and researchers in sectors such as public health and health care, housing and community development, child welfare, and early care and  ducation. In response to the demand for the COI, has updated and improved the index.

The Child Opportunity Gap: Inequities in Child Opportunity Within Metros

December 17, 2019

That children in Bakersfield, California and Boston, Massachusetts face very different opportunity should be a cause for concern. But perhaps more striking are the inequities in opportunity within metro areas. In many metro areas, the difference between their lowest and highest opportunity neighborhoods is as wide as the difference between very low- and very high-opportunity neighborhoods across the entire nation. To measure the difference in conditions that children experience, we look at the Child Opportunity Score by opportunity level. This allows us to compare very low-opportunity neighborhoods between metro areas. A child living in a very low-opportunity neighborhood in Milwaukee with a score of only 4 experiences much worse conditions than a child in a very low-opportunity neighborhood in Austin with a score of 24.Use this tool below to explore the wide variation in scores by opportunity level between metro areas.

Racial/Ethnic Patterns of Child Opportunity

December 17, 2019

Given the influence of neighborhoods on children's healthy development, it is very important to know where children live in relation to neighborhood opportunity and whether all children have equal access to neighborhood conditions and resources that help them thrive. The Child Opportunity Index allows us to answer these important questions.To summarize inequities in children's access to opportunity, we calculate Child Opportunity Scores by racial/ethnic group for each metro area. The score for a given racial/ethnic group represents the score of the neighborhood experienced by the typical (median) child of that group.

Child Opportunity and Health: How Neighborhood Opportunity Shapes Adult Outcomes

December 17, 2019

The quality of the neighborhoods where they grow up influences not only children's experiences today but also how well they do as adults. Measures of adult wellbeing include, for example, life expectancy and socioeconomic mobility.Very low- and very high-opportunity neighborhoods vary considerably not only in the conditions and resources they offer to children but also in the health and life prospects of their residents. Life expectancy at birth is a helpful way of summarizing the health of a population. It tells us how long people can expect to live when they are born.Across the 100 largest metropolitan areas, life expectancy at birth is higher with every level of neighborhood opportunity.Use this tool to explore the difference in life expectancy between the five levels of neighborhood opportunity within each metro area.

Data-for-Equity Research Brief: Rental Cost, Unit Size and Neighborhood Opportunity

April 1, 2018

Our new research finds that low-income families with children face significant challenges when they try to find affordable rental units in neighborhoods with the most resources for children. 

The Child Opportunity Index: Measuring and Mapping Neighborhood-Based Opportunities for U.S. Children

August 1, 2016

We begin this report with a tale of two neighborhoods that are close in distance (under 3 miles) but very far apart in terms of the opportunities they offer children. In the first neighborhood, children face a host of obstacles to  opportunity and wellbeing. Few attend Pre-K programs and there are limited quality early childhood centers in close proximity. Local schools have high levels of poverty concentration; adults have low levels of educational attainment. The social and economic climate is characterized by high rates of poverty and unemployment. Moreover, high rates of housing vacancy, an absence of healthy food retailers, and very low availability of health facilities signal constrained health and environmental opportunities. In the second neighborhood, child-focused opportunities are plentiful. The educational climate is vibrant with a vast majority of young children attending Pre-K programs, many high quality early childhood education centers nearby, and high levels of education among adults. The social and economic climate is thriving with low rates of poverty and unemployment. Children have ample parks and green spaces, all food outlets are healthy, and there are close to 200 health facilities within 2 miles.This divergent tale of two neighborhoods shows how vastly opportunities for children can differ within the samemetropolitan area (and within just a few miles). Because neighborhoods have a direct influence on child health anddevelopment, and because children in metropolitan areas face high levels of racial/ethnic segregation, it is critical tounderstand the extent of neighborhood differences at a population level, and how these differences may reinforce (oralleviate) racial/ethnic inequities in child wellbeing. The Child Opportunity Index was designed to rank neighborhoodswithin metropolitan areas based on the opportunities they offer children and to then consider how equitably (or inequitably) children of different racial/ethnic groups are distributed across different levels of opportunity.

Children Left Behind: How Metropolitan Areas Are Failing America's Children

January 1, 2007

Presents findings from the Diversity Data project, an online resource measuring social indicators of quality of life in U.S. metropolitan areas. Focuses on racial and ethnic disparities with a particular emphasis on children and their well-being.