African-American children still face dismal odds in Wisconsin.
The state ranks last in the country in the overall well-being of African-American children based on an index of 12 measures that gauge a child’s success from birth to adulthood, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
The measures, while not new, are bleak:
■ Four out of every five African-American children in Wisconsin live in poor households, compared with roughly two out of three Latino children and three out of 10 white children.
■ Seven out of 10 African-American children live in single-parent families, compared with fewer than four of 10 Latino children and roughly two of 10 white children.
■ Fewer than one in 10 in eighth grade are proficient in math, compared with almost one in five for Latino children and a bit less than one in two for white children.
Ken Taylor, speaking for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, is quick to acknowledge that people have become inured to the widespread poverty among African-Americans in the state.
“The indifference is one of the core challenges we need to face,” he said.
The report by the advocacy group calls for a sense of urgency and a long-term commitment to improving the lives of African-American children.
“We need to come together as a community — as a state — to say that this is an abomination that is not in keeping with our values or how we view ourselves as Wisconsinites,” Taylor said.
He noted that the gap affects the economy and quality of life for everyone.
“This does make the state less competitive and less desirable,” he said.
It also is a waste of human capital — the accumulated skills, knowledge and expertise of the workforce — that has become increasingly important to economic growth and prosperity.
The report builds on an earlier national report released this year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that drew attention to the effects of widespread poverty among African-Americans in Wisconsin — and the state’s ranking last in the country for African-American children.
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