Over Half of Black Children in SF Live in Least Healthy Neighborhoods


Fifty-seven percent of metropolitan San Francisco’s Black children live in the area’s least healthy neighborhoods for childhood development, according to the recently developed Child Opportunity Index.

Of the country’s 100 largest metro areas, San Francisco has the seventh highest concentration of Black children living in very low opportunity neighborhoods.


In comparison, 44 percent of Hispanic children and just 7 percent of white children live in these same very low-opportunity neighborhoods. A graphic summary of San Francisco’s numbers is available at http://bit.ly/COISanFran.


As part of the diversitydatakids.org project, researchers at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management and the Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity created the index to examine a holistic group of education, health and socioeconomic indicators, including the presence of a quality early childhood education center, the proximity to parks and healthcare facilities, and the housing foreclosure rate, that can identify which neighborhoods within each of the country’s 100 largest metro areas are the most conducive to healthy child development.


“Previously, studies have looked at neighborhood conditions in one or a few areas. This is the first time data on neighborhood resources that matter for children—and where children of different racial and ethnic groups live in relation to those resources—is available for the 100 largest metro areas,” says lead researcher Dr. Dolores Acevedo-Garcia of the Heller School’s Institute for Child, Youth, and Family Policy.


Approximately 49 million children—or two-thirds of the population under the age of 18 in the United States—live in these 100 communities.


A major theme that emerges from the research is the high concentration of black and Hispanic children who live in the country’s lowest opportunity neighborhoods.


Nationally, 40 percent of black and 32 percent of Hispanic children live in the lowest opportunity neighborhoods within their metro area, compared to just 9 percent of white children.


The index shows considerable variation across America. For example, the proportion of Hispanic children living in very low opportunity neighborhoods ranges from about 10 percent in New Orleans to 57 percent in Boston.


In Albany, 60 percent of the area’s black children live in its lowest opportunity neighborhoods, compared to McAllen, Texas, which is the best at 8 percent.


“Today, nearly half of U.S. children are from racial and ethnic minority groups, compared to only about 15 percent in the mid-1970s,” says Erin Hardy, research director for diversitydatakids.org. “It is critical for our future productivity as a nation that all children have access to neighborhoods with opportunities for healthy development.”


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