Hispanic children by the numbers

Most Latino families will tell you a new study isn’t needed to reveal they’re still hurting from the recession; however, the annual Annie E. Casey…

Emmanuel Angeles, raises his hand to be called on while doing a worksheet in an English Language Learner summer school class at the Cordova Villa Elementary School, Wednesday, June 12, 2013 in Rancho Cordova, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Most Latino families will tell you a new study isn’t needed to reveal they’re still hurting from the recession; however, the annual Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book does show some interesting details regarding the current state of Hispanic children.

“Latino families are still not bouncing back to where they were before the recession,” Annie E. Casey Foundation Associate Director Policy Reform and Advocacy Laura Speer told VOXXI. “And even in kind of the places where Latino families had some of the biggest impacts in terms of their employment, the child poverty rate for Latino kids continues to be high at 34 percent compared to 23 percent for the national average.”

Overall, the news is mixed for Latino children in the recent national Kids Count Data Book, which contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of measures of child wellbeing.

In order to examine recent trends (between 2005 and 2012), the new Data Book uses 16 indicators across four areas – economic wellbeing, education, health & family and community.

At a glance: The good

  • In 2012, 7 percent of Hispanic babies had a low birth weight compared to the national average of 8 percent.
  • In 2010, the mortality rate for Hispanic children and teens was 21 per 100,000 compared to the national average of 26 per 100,000.

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Speer added, in terms of Latino children having health insurance, that figure is at 12 percent with the national average at 7 percent.

“That’s an important measure because having access to health insurance means that children get preventative healthcare that they need,” Speer said. “Also, developmental issues get picked up earlier if they have a primary care provider, which can help them at school and throughout their childhood.”

The troubling

In terms of education, the news regarding Latino students is disconcerting. Specifically, 79 percent of eighth grade Latino students are not proficient in math. Nationally, 49 states and the District of Columbia saw improvements since 2005 in math proficiency. The largest gap among states is between Massachusetts with only 45 percent of its eighth-graders not proficient in the subject and Alabama with 80 percent.

SEE ALSO: A National imperative: Helping English learners

“So kind of the worst state median pretty much is the average for Latino kids in the United States,” Speer said. “This is important because actually 8th grade math – more than some of the measures – is one of the biggest predictors of whether or not a young person will go to college and be a success. So that’s important because you need to have at least a high school diploma or some kind of college certificate to be able to get a job that’s going to be able to support you.”

The good

One area where Latino youth are making inroads has to do with the teen birth rate, which continues to drop with the national average at an all-time low of 29 births per 1,000.

“The rate of Latino young people have declined but it’s still higher than the national average,” Speer said. “The rate for Latino girls 15 to 19 is 46 teen births per 1,000. If you look back to 2005, the rate was 82 births per 1,000 for Latino girls. So it’s dropped by over 40 percent in just a couple of years.”

SEE ALSO: Some Hispanic immigrants are more likely to have children with autism

Overall, Speer said there is a correlation regarding issues society deems important and thus puts its resources towards. Whereas inroads have been made with high-quality preschool education opportunities, the notion of targeting single-parent families, which play a large role in many aforementioned areas of concern, remains elusive.

“There are still lots of things we know that can be done that can make an impact,” Speer said. “Most of the indicators we track show there are ways for public policy to have an impact on improving the outcomes for kids. And a lot of it isn’t necessarily we don’t know what to do, but it’s that we don’t have the public will to spend the money to do it.”