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Child Opportunity Index shows “staggering” racial, ethnic inequality in cities


The latest Child Opportunity Index finds wide inequities in neighborhood opportunity for children in the city of Albany.  

The Child Opportunity Index measures statistics gathered by the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at Brandeis University, examining multiple neighborhood influences on children in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Project Director for diversitydatakids.org, says Albany ranks eighth among the 100 largest metros in the newest index released this month when it comes to overall opportunities for children.

“However, we see a wide inequities in child opportunity between children of different racial and ethnic groups. The score for white children is very high, of a possible score of 100, which is the highest, white children in Albany score 81. So very, very high. On the other hand, Black children score only 23. That is the eighth largest Black white opportunity gap among the 100 largest metro areas,” said Acevedo-Garcia.

A similarly scathing inequity assessment was included in Index 2.0.

“There were important efforts back then. The mayor and her office were very committed to change for sure," Acevedo-Garcia said. "And I remember there was one initiative to try to improve playgrounds in the Albany region, city, in the sense of revitalizing those parks and make them safe and better for children. And obviously, those are important efforts. But there are a lot of factors that go in to the child opportunity index

Forty-four factors that cover education on socio-economic and environmental opportunity. So moving the needle across all those different areas, requires a very substantial type of effort in terms of policy, and programming.”

"I felt outraged, reading the report and agitated, frustrated," said Albany's Chief Auditor Dorcey Applyrs, who issued a report earlier this month that concludes progress has lagged when it comes to improving equity in the city, says the Index findings shouldn't be taken lightly.

Applyrs is also a candidate for mayor in the 2025 race.

"While it's great that for our white children in this area, in the city of Albany, we scored at the highest in one instance, I believe it was possibly a score of 100. And I think that that is awesome. And we should all take a victory lap, because it shows that we are a resourceful city, and those resources are being extended to our youth. But after we take that victory lap, we must take a sip of water and run the marathon that's required to close the opportunity gap for our Black and brown children,” Applyrs said.

Acevedo-Garcia says the inequities revealed by the Index have profound implications, and should be a "call to action" for city residents.

"In Albany in particular, children going out in a very high opportunity neighborhoods can expect to live 7.7 years longer than children in very low opportunity neighborhoods, and will have an income in adulthood about 55% higher than children growing up in lower opportunity neighborhoods," Acevedo-Garcia said.

Recommendations for change include banishing disparity by making housing opportunities more accessible for everyone, and being more mindful of environmental issues.

Download the Child Opportunity Index 3.0
Data is available for virtually all U.S. census tracts (2010 definition) from 2012 to 2021.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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