We all want a bright future for our children, and we want Texas to be a place that makes that bright future possible.

As the state’s economy and population grow, the future of Texas depends on the health, education and financial security of all our children—across gender, neighborhood, income, race and ethnicity.

Despite Texas’ vast resources, the state is consistently ranked among the worst states for child well-being. We have to “raise the bar” in child well-being for all kids, because ranking 41st in child well-being simply isn’t good enough for Texas.

But we cannot raise the bar for all kids if we don’t look specifically at how Texas’ children of color are faring. We can often trace racial and ethnic gaps in children’s health, education and financial security to historical policies that created barriers for families and current policies that can perpetuate them. We must “close the gaps” by intentionally breaking down any obstacles to certain groups of children reaching their full potential.

We believe that raising the bar and closing the gaps in child well-being is the way forward for sustainable economic growth and prosperity. By creating abundant opportunities for Texas kids, the state will build on its strengths: its diversity, capacity for growth and enterprising spirit.

FINDINGS

Texas’ child population is growing and changing.

More than 7 million children live in Texas today, representing nearly 1 in 10 children living in the U.S.

Fifty percent of Texas kids are Hispanic/ Latino, 33 percent White, 11 percent Black, and 6 percent Asian, multiracial or some other race. Due to lower birth and immigration rates among White and Black Texans relative to Hispanic and Asian Texans, in 2050, the child population is projected to be 61 percent Hispanic, 22 percent White, 9 percent Black, and 8 percent Asian, multiracial or some other race.

One-third of Texas kids (nearly 2.4 million) live with one or more parents who immigrated to the U.S. However, 96 percent of all Texas kids are U.S. citizens.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Use data and analysis to increase equity in child well-being.

Collect and analyze data by race and ethnicity whenever possible.

Disaggregated data are critical to identifying disparities in child well-being, understanding the complex factors that contribute to racial and ethnic gaps, and designing more responsive programs, policies and services for Texas kids.

Analyze the race and equity impact of policies and practices.

Because of a history that has created unequal circumstances for families, policies and practices that seem neutral sometimes confer benefits or disadvantages to certain racial and ethnic groups. A racial impact analysis can help evaluate and refine policies to advance equity in child well-being.

FINDINGS

Due to policies which created and maintained unequal opportunities for families, disparities in child poverty exist across race, ethnicity and family type.

One in four Texas children live in poverty, and poverty rates for Latino (33 percent) and Black children (32 percent) are nearly three times higher than they are for White (11 percent) and Asian children (12 percent).

Nineteen percent of Texas children live in “high-poverty” neighborhoods, and that share is growing. Thirty percent of Latino children, 23 percent of Black children, seven percent of Asian and four percent of White children live in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Forty-two percent of single-mother families live in poverty; twice the rate of single-father families. Poverty rates are highest for single mothers who are Latina (51 percent) and lowest for single mothers who are White (29 percent).

RECOMMENDATIONS

Fight child poverty by creating access to opportunity-rich environments for children, and provide support and pathways out of poverty for parents.

Ensure families with children live in “high-opportunity” neighborhoods.

Many strategies can help advance the goal of every child living in a neighborhood with abundant opportunities, including creating partnerships to invest in neighborhoods, removing barriers for families who want to move to different neighborhoods, and pursuing policies to prevent racial and economic isolation.

Create partnerships to promote pathways out of poverty and better support families.

Effective strategies include creating partnerships between schools, colleges, workforce development programs and businesses to offer job-based training for youth and parents; investing state funds to support and expand early college high school programs; and coordinating workforce and early childhood programs.

FINDINGS

The conditions and environments in which children live affect their health and differ by race and ethnicity.

Food insecurity affects 38 percent of Black children, a rate more than twice as high as White children. Food insecurity is a symptom of economic insecurity.

Child uninsured rates continue to improve for all racial and ethnic groups, but gaps still remain. Texas has one of the highest uninsured rates for Latino children (15 percent) and for children overall (11 percent).

White and Black children are equally the least likely to be uninsured (7 percent). Black children are more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than White and Latino children.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Ensure health and wellness by reducing racial and ethnic disparities in food security, access to health insurance for children and parents and exposure to environmental risks.

More schools can take advantage of innovative serving models for School Breakfast and use of Afterschool Meals and Summer Nutrition Programs to extend meals throughout the day and year.

Increase access to health insurance for underserved families.

Strategies include effective outreach and enrollment organizations working with existing community assets (e.g. schools, media outlets, faith-based organizations); active partnerships between state agencies, local governments, non-profits, health care providers and philanthropic organizations; and closing the health care “Coverage Gap” for families.

FINDINGS

Texas’ public schools vary widely in their racial, ethnic and economic makeup; Black and Hispanic students face greater barriers to educational attainment than White or Asian students.

Reflecting child population trends, Texas public school students are 52 percent Hispanic/Latino, 29 percent White, 13 percent Black/African- American and 6 percent Asian, multiracial or some other race.

Black and Latino students are underrepresented in Advanced Placement math, science and technology courses. Girls are particularly underrepresented in AP Computer Science.

Under any measure of high school completion, rates have improved for all students. However, barriers remain for Black and Hispanic students: 95 percent of Asian students, 93 percent of White students, 86 percent of Hispanic students, and 84 percent of Black students graduate from high school in four years.

Black and Hispanic students are more likely to attend high-poverty school districts. Forty-two percent of Hispanic students are enrolled in high-poverty school districts, compared to 6 percent of White students.

Black students in Texas are more likely to attend schools with high rates of teacher turnover and more inexperienced teachers.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Expand educational opportunities for every child, and make equity a priority in students’ ability to access educational resources and services.

Increase state funding and funding equity for districts.

As the student population grows and changes and the state demands better outcomes for students, legislators should increase the initial amount that all districts receive per student to fund their basic educational program. The state should also conduct an updated study on the funding required to meet educational standards and reconsider funding adjustments for low-income students, English language learners and high-poverty districts.

Make equity a priority within classrooms, schools and districts..

District and campus administrators should take into account varying needs among and within campuses, and ensure every student has access to high-quality early education, experienced teachers and rigorous coursework.

FINDINGS

Like inequities by race or ethnicity, disparities by gender can shape the opportunities and obstacles children will face to reach their full potential. For girls, early positives do not always predict later gains.

Girls are more likely than boys to obtain their high school degree, and Black and Latina women are more likely to have postsecondary education credentials than Black and Latino men.

However, there are still persistent earnings gaps in Texas by race and gender. Median earnings for Asian women ($50,103) are nearly twice that of Hispanic women ($26,406), but still lower than for White men.

Girls are underrepresented in some STEM courses and high-paying fields. Only 10 percent of AP Computer Science students in high school are female. And women are significantly underrepresented and paid less in STEM fields.

Economic opportunities play out in Texas mothers’ ability to provide for their families: Single-mother families are twice as likely (42 percent) as single-father families (21 percent) to live in poverty.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Focusing on gender equity benefits all kids and families and can help close gaps in child well-being.

Make equity a priority within STEM courses.

District and campus administrators should ensure that girls and students of color have access to and support for participating in STEM courses.

Provide more supports for working moms.

Women often leave paid work in order to care for children or elderly parents, contributing to reduced earnings potential and future employment. Texas should examine job quality provisions, such as family leave and paid time off, to support working families.

Businesses should implement pay equity policies.

All else being equal, research shows biases by male and female hiring managers can contribute to women’s lower salaries. Businesses should examine how their hiring and compensation procedures impact both gender and racial equity.

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