Report: Wisconsin has largest well-being gap between white and black youth

Report: Wisconsin has largest well-being gap between white and black youth

A new report from a national child advocacy organization says black children in Wisconsin are facing the nation’s biggest gap in well-being compared to white children.

The nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation released its second Race for Results report , using 12 indexes, including those related to poverty, literacy, graduation rates and teen pregnancy, among others, to determine the well-being of children in 44 states where data was available.

Wisconsin ranked 10th in well-being for white children, but ranked 41st when it comes to black youth, making for largest well-being gap of its kind in the country.

The latest Race for Results report is based on data collected between 2013 and 2015.

“I wish that I could say I was surprised with the findings,” Ken Taylor, executive director of Kids Forward, formerly the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, said.

Taylor said the results are an unfortunate reflection of long-existing disparities between white Wisconsinites and residents of color.

Michael Johnson, head of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, which works with youth of color in the Madison area, agreed.

“(It’s) the same report we’ve seen for the last 40 years,” he said. “The question is: When are we going to get serious about investing in young people and coming up with programs that are going to help to change these disparities in our state?”

Taylor said not only should the new report spark a conversation about racial inequities, but it should serve as a call to action.

“We know we can make a difference if we invest in education,” Taylor said. “We know we can make a difference if more families have family supporting wages, so they can have stable households and support their kids as they’re growing up.”

Taylor said adding additional funds to early childhood education would significantly improve the gap, as many students of color enter school behind in skills, a problem which only snowballs as they get older. He said besides state and federal government action, individuals can make a difference by recognizing their own implicit biases.

“This is not inevitable. This is not something we can’t change,” Taylor said. “We know there are things we can do, we just have to choose to do them.”

The study ranked Wisconsin 40th in well-being for Asian & Pacific Islander children and 21st in well-being for Latino children.

The Badger State ranked 7th in well-being for American Indian children, but its overall well-being score, which states are ranked by, was still well below white youth.