R.I. KIDS COUNT calls for better data collection to identify ethnic disparities

PROVIDENCE – In its latest policy brief, titled “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Children’s Economic Well-Being in Rhode Island,” Rhode Island KIDS COUNT is calling for improved data collection to evaluate communities of color that are struggling.

KIDS COUNT says that research data for Native Americans in both Rhode Island and the U.S. is limited due to the small population size. As a result, it makes it difficult to evaluate the economic impact of employment, training, education and COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, the organization said.

KIDS COUNT fees that creating datasets focused on Native Americans and oversampling of these groups could help provide “valuable information” needed to create policies and programs addressing economic needs of Native American children and families.

The organization also says in the policy brief that disparities across Asian subgroups can be attributed to differences in occupations, generational wealth and educational attainment. A lack of disaggregated data for the Asian population, KIDS COUNT said, “contributes to the misperception that all Asian Americans are excelling, resulting in underrepresentation in equity initiatives, especially for Southeast Asians where the largest disparities are found.”

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KIDS COUNT says in the report that the All Students Count Act should be enforced, and officials should collect and report disaggregated data across Asian ethnic groups. Data-collection protocols to capture ethnicity-specific data on Southeast Asian children and families should also be implemented, KIDS COUNT said.

Another recommendation KIDS COUNT noted is that data collection of race and ethnicity of those receiving public benefits, such as from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Child Care Assistance Program, should be improved.

“We can’t eliminate these disparities without acknowledging the historical and structural racism that led to these disparities. We look forward to working with our community partners, funders and elected officials to advance equitable policies and programs that will ensure that all children have the opportunity to thrive,” Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Executive Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant said in a statement.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.