Children of Color Face Disparity in Opportunity Throughout Oregon

Children First Releases 2014 County Data Book Demonstrating State of Children in Oregon

The Data Book demonstrates children of color have fewer opportunities than their white peers in every region of Oregon. For example, 60% of the state’s children of color live in low-income families—less than $47,700 annual income for a family of four—compared to 38% of white children. Disparity in opportunity for children of color is deepest in Multnomah County, where 22% of Oregon’s non-white child population lives. Other areas of the state with significantly less opportunity for children of color include Marion County, Washington County, and much of eastern Oregon. 

“In the next two decades, Oregon’s progress and prosperity will be in the hands of our increasingly diverse young children. With nearly one in four Oregon children growing up in poverty, the future is in danger. This deep inequity in opportunities does not reflect Oregon’s values,” said Children First Executive Director Tonia Hunt. “Children First is working with culturally-specific organizations and other community partners to find solutions to these disparities and advocate for policies that create more opportunity for all Oregon children.”

Children of color are an increasing proportion of Oregon's population—approximately 35% identify as non-white, with Latino children now making up the largest proportion of the non-white child population at 21% of all children. The County Data Book's Oregon Opportunity Index combines 12 separate measures of opportunity, including access to early childhood education, achievement of educational milestones such as reading proficiency in 4th grade, children living in a home headed by a high school degree holder, household income above 200% of the federal poverty level, and more.

“Communities of color each face challenges specific to their community and possess unique strengths. Data-informed action and commitment are required on the part of policymakers to create opportunity for all of Oregon’s children to reach their full potential,” said Executive Director Michael Alexander, Urban League of Portland.

“Children First's important findings call on our community to increase equity and create opportunities so children of all backgrounds can achieve success,” said United Way of the Columbia-Willamette President and CEO Keith Thomajan. “United Way is collaborating with more than 50 community-based organizations to break the cycle of poverty for children in the Portland metro area with a particular focus on issues of equity in opportunity.”

Culturally-specific service providers and advocates contributed to the report’s focus on opportunity for children of color. Causa Executive Director Andrea Miller added, “This report reinforces the need for Oregon policymakers, advocates, and community members to advance solutions that address disparities among children of color, and their families, in Oregon.” Causa is Oregon’s largest Latino immigrant rights advocacy group.

Oregon 2014 Opportunity Index highlights include:

• Only 48% of 3 to 5-year-old Oregon children of color are enrolled in early childhood education, compared to 57% of white children;
• Oregon is one of the best states for healthy birth weights, and children of color are nearly as likely to be born at normal birth weight as their white peers (93% versus 94%);
• Only 26% of 25 to 29-year-old Oregon young adults of color hold an associate's degree or higher, compared to 40% among whites of the same age.

The 2014 Data Book also details by county other indicators of childhood well-being for Oregon's 860,000 children ages 0 to 17. Key measurements fall within the categories of health, child welfare, financial stability, early care, youth development, and education. Overall, Oregon's childhood poverty rate dropped slightly, while rates of abuse and neglect have dropped from 13.4 to 11.1 incidents per 1,000 children ages 0 to 17.

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