A new study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds kids from immigrant families, as well as children of color, face persistent challenges that hinder their economic future.
The 2017 Race for Results report indicates that Wyoming needs to address a number of disparities in order to have all kids on track to be middle-class earners by middle age. Researchers compared states on the “well-being” of children from different backgrounds using 12 indicators that range from birth weight to academic performance.
In Wyoming, the well-being of American Indian kids is below the national average for Native kids. Wyoming’s Hispanic and Latino kids fair slightly better than Hispanic and Latino kids in other states, but still face considerable challenges. And while White children in Wyoming are below the national average, they still score almost 200 points higher than other racial and ethnic groups in the state.
Samin Dadelahi, from the Wyoming Community Foundation, said the report shows that Wyoming needs to be better prepared to support students of all backgrounds because they are the state’s future workforce.
“We’re really struggling in this state and we’re constantly talking about economic diversification,” said Dadelahi. “How is it possible that we can talk about economic diversification without looking at the reality of what the census is telling us?”
She added, “we’re going to have to talk about the diversification of our population, too, in order to be successful.”
The report did not include results on African-American kids, or Asian and Pacific Islanders, because those communities are so small in Wyoming. It was noted in the report that small sample sizes would not produce reliable data.
For Dadelahi those gaps in data get at the heart of the issue. She said policymakers need to pay more attention to the state’s most vulnerable populations, because inclusivity is what’s best for all Wyomingites.
“We have 31,000 children of color in this state. We have 11,000 children in immigrant families,” said Dadelahi. “When we look at those children in the state of Wyoming, and we have such low population density as it is, can we afford to lose even one child?”
She said the state needs to prepare all young people, regardless of background, to be able to contribute to the state’s economy.