May 10, 2021
Child & Family Well-Being Index Ranks 59 Community Districts By Greatest Risks to Children’s Economic Security, Health, Education & Safety;
95% of Children in the Highest Risk Category are Children of Color
New York, NY –– Today, the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC), released “Child & Family Well-Being in New York City Ranking Risks and Understanding COVID-19 Impacts Across 59 Community Districts,” a first-of-its-kind analysis of the barriers to well-being children and families face in the aftermath of COVID-19. 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.
The report outlines why decisive action must be taken to address the cumulative and compounding consequences of the current crises on children and their families and the preexisting risk factors that have contributed to these sobering effects. Rising parental unemployment levels deepen child hunger, housing insecurity and homelessness; decreased engagement in well-child visits, immunization, and early intervention due to shelter-in-place requirements result in declining child health and development; and inequitable distance learning and learning loss widen the racial achievement gap. These threats to child well-being are also increasing at a time of social isolation and result in declining mental health, heightened risk of child welfare involvement as well as greater exposure to community level violence.
The findings reveal how existing disparities in health care access, housing and employment have only become more exaggerated during the pandemic. New Yorkers who are Black, Hispanic, or immigrants have endured the highest rates of COVID-19 related illness or death. Several communities ranked in the high-risk categories are communities of color with high shares of residents working in essential services who face higher risk of exposure to the virus (e.g. health care and food retail) or industries with higher rates of job and wage loss (e.g., restaurants and hospitality). Meanwhile, more than 470,000 households in New York City lack broadband internet access. This not only limits the possibility of remote work for parents and remote learning for children but impedes access to basic health and safety information, as well as needed services, including safety net programs and vaccines.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn glaring attention to long-standing inequities that have systematically endangered the well-being of families and children of color across New York City for generations; today, these inequities are deeper and ever more threatening,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “As we set our sights on New York City’s recovery, we must not be satisfied with a return to the state of inequity that existed prior to the pandemic. In the past, even as progress was made in many areas, troubling disparities persisted along racial, ethnic, and geographic lines. Combatting racism and discrimination in all forms must be part of pandemic recovery efforts and result in uprooting long-standing barriers to wellbeing that are laid bare in this report. New York’s next mayor will be at the helm of the city’s rebirth and he or she must seize the moment to advance an ambitious agenda that ensures the lives of all New Yorkers in every community are distinguished by the presence of equity, justice and well-being.”
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:
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:
“The report findings are deeply sobering. When you compare data on racial disparities prior to the pandemic to the state of risk now, you can see that the very communities that were barely hanging on before COVID-19 are the same ones that experienced the greatest devastation during the pandemic. Armed with insights from the 2021 Child & Family Well-being Index, we urge New York’s next mayor to invest in the communities that have been systematically underfunded for generations. The health and well-being of New York’s children and families depend upon it,” said Sophia N. Halkitis, Data Analyst Citizens’ Committee for Children and an author of the report.
“New York has witnessed the devastation of child poverty for decades, and economic inequality and the racial wealth gap have widened further in our city during the pandemic. But the good news is, we know what investments in communities improve child and family well-being,” said Bijan Kimiagar, Associate Executive Director for Research at Citizens’ Committee for Children. “New York City is at a pivotal moment. We can either choose to maintain the status quo and uphold long-standing inequalities, or we choose to break down barriers to well-being and advance equity and recovery for all New York’s children and families. In a city that prides itself on being one of the most inclusive in America, the choice is clear.”
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:
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.
You can view the index report in its entirety here.
CCC is an independent, nonpartisan child advocacy organization that leverages data on the well-being of children and families to inform budgetary, legislative and programmatic decisions made at the federal, state, and local level. By measuring indicators across six domains of well-being (economic security, housing, health, education, youth, and family and community) on an annual basis, CCC’s Child and Family Well-being Index is designed to illustrate where risk factors cluster and draw attention to community districts across the city where barriers to child and family well-being must be addressed.