Child & Family Well-Being in NYC: Ranking Risks and Understanding COVID-19 Impacts Across 59 Community Districts

Data Resources

May 10, 2021

Every year, CCC analyzes publicly available data to identify community districts across New York City where children and families face greater barriers to their well-being. By measuring where risk factors cluster, CCC’s Child and Family Well-being Index is designed to draw attention to where barriers to child and family well-being must be addressed in specific communities, in each borough and citywide.  

In this year’s index, we examine this information alongside data that measure the impact of the pandemic across multiple domains (i.e. economic, housing, health, education, youth, and family and community). In doing so, the report offers a first-of-its-kind analysis of the barriers to well-being children and families face today, as they continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.   

The report outlines how and why the pandemic has disproportionately devastated communities of color, noting higher rates of child poverty, overcrowded housing, and lack of access to health care, and includes a policy roadmap to uproot long-standing inequalities and help families recover from the devastation of COVID-19.   

Key Findings

The analysis examines community district-level data across six domains of well-being — including economic security, housing, health, education, youth, and family and community — and ranks each community district’s overall risk to child and family well-being from highest risk, moderate high risk, moderate risk, moderate low risk, and lowest risk. This analysis leverages data from both before and during the pandemic, exposing how the public health crisis coincided with and exacerbated existing crises of economic inequality and racial injustice. 

For the sixth year in a row, communities districts in the Bronx are overrepresented in the highest risk category overall and in multiple domains (Economic Security, Housing, Education, and Family & Community), with the highest risk ratings in Mott Haven, Morrisania, Hunts Point, East Tremont, University Heights, and Concourse/Highbridge. The Bronx also had the highest rate of COVID-19 related deaths.  

Additional key findings for each domain include: 

  • Economic Security: More than a third of children are in poverty in all the districts in the highest risk category, and as high as one in two children in University Heights, Morrisania, East Tremont, and the Lower East Side. In the lowest risk category, child poverty estimates are below eight percent. Households in communities already struggling with unacceptable levels of poverty have been disproportionately hit by falling incomes and job loss. 
  • Housing: More than 20% of renter households in nearly 90% of community districts paid more than half of their income on rent prior to the pandemic. Housing insecurity has deepened in the pandemic as 46% of Black renters with children and 55% of Hispanic/Latino renters with children report lack of confidence in meeting their next month’s rent.  
  • Health: While child health care coverage is near universal, coverage does not equal access. Post-COVID data reveals disruption in child hospital visits, immunization, dental care, and lack of access to behavioral health care. Infant mortality rates for babies born to mothers who are Black remain alarmingly high at 7.9 per 1,000 births, compared to babies born to mothers who are Hispanic (3.8), Asian (2.7), or White (2.3). Infant mortality rates as a whole, as well as the share of babies born with low birth weight, are two to three times higher in certain community districts. 
  • Education: Prior to the pandemic, less than a third of students in the highest risk category scored proficient on Math and ELA exams, compared to more than two-thirds of students in the lowest risk districts, and pass rates for students who are Black and Latino were half the rate for students who are White or Asian. During the pandemic, heads of households who are Black or Latino were at least twice as likely to report their child having had zero days of contact with a teacher in the past week compared to heads of households who are White.  
  • Youth: During times of economic decline, young people have been historically pushed out of the job market. Youth disengagement and unemployment rates vary dramatically across communities, with the share of unemployed youth being six times higher in the highest risk areas than in the lowest risk areas. The pandemic has exacerbated inequity and loss of income contributes to stress for young people – nearly one in two young people report symptoms of anxiety and depressions.   
  • Family and Community: Single-parent families and adults without a High School degree are more likely to face economic insecurity pre-pandemic, and continue to face greater barriers to well-being. Since March 2020, women and people of color experienced disproportionate displacement from the workforce. These New Yorkers were more likely to be part of the 40% of households with children who experienced hunger because they just couldn’t afford enough food. 

FY 2022 City Budget Priorities

Based on these findings, CCC is calling on city leaders to leverage federal stimulus dollars as they negotiate an Adopted Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 that ensures that:  

  • The Summer Rising initiative includes sufficient resources for CBO planning, increased rates to support staff and services to effectively develop and deliver summer programming. 
  • Behavioral health funding addresses crisis-level needs of children, adolescents, and their caregivers, with additional investments to strengthen community-based organizations, ensure a full continuum of services in schools, and facilitate relationships between community based services and schools.  
  • The value of city rent subsidies must be increased to market rate to both prevent homelessness and increase housing security among families with children exiting shelter. 
  • Extended day and year-round care must be invested in across child care, 3K and UPK. 
  • Investments in early childhood special education must result in enough seats to address the shortage for preschoolers with disabilities and extend salary parity to preschool special education teachers. 
  • Anti-hunger initiatives in schools and communities receive the support they need to address food insecurity that has deepened as a result of COVID-19. 

Recommendations for Pandemic Recovery

Long-term, children, families, communities, and New York City overall will not recover without sustained and stable investments that confront the systemic disinvestment, disparities, and discrimination that the pandemic, economic decline, and persistent race-based injustice have both exacerbated and laid bare. The path to recovery must:

  • Focus on initiatives that can dramatically reduce child poverty and promote economic mobility for families of color and low-income households including efforts to address wage disparities, deepen New York City’s earned income tax credit and reform the City’s child and dependent care credit, and connect every kindergartener to a college savings platform.
  • Prioritize policies that keep children, youth and families stably and safely housed including offering rent subsidies of market rate value and expanding affordable and supportive housing that addresses the specific needs of youth and families with children.
  • Create and support a robust continuum of primary health and behavioral health care for children, adolescents, and their caregivers – offering integrated care in pediatric settings and developmental and behavioral health supports in early care and education and schools.
  • Commit to an equitable educational continuum beginning with making infant toddler care accessible and affordable, 3-K and UPK universal, and high quality K to 12 instruction.
  • Expand year-round youth employment opportunities, as well as universal, year-round, and well-supported after school and summer programs.
  • End the over-policing of communities, and invest in equity with affordable food, banks, transportation, street safety, green space, and broadband access accessible to all.

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