Data Drives Action

All of us at DC Action for Children are thrilled with the success of last week’s “every place matters. every kid counts.” luncheon. We are so grateful to all of our partners and supporters who were there with us.

For those of you who couldn’t be there, here’s what you missed.

We celebrated our organization’s 20th year! More importantly, we introduced our community to the important new work we are doing to serve as the voice for DC’s children.

DC Action’s work to help all of our city’s children thrive has never been more critical to our future. Despite growth in median family income in the city between 2000 and 2010, despite decreases in poverty among other age groups (those 18-64 and those over 65) and even despite job growth through most of the recession, child poverty rates in DC have not budged.

In the District, one in three children lives in poverty, and for black children, the rate has risen to nearly half. This compares to one in five children living in poverty nationally. When you consider that the poverty line in 2012 was $23,050 for a family of four, it is hard to imagine how struggling families meet their most basic needs here for food, child care, housing and utilities, to name just a few.

As you learned at the event, the well-being of far too many District children is dictated by their ZIP codes, not their gifts and abilities. Too many are at significant risk for poor outcomes in their schools, in their communities and in their careers. Their lives are tenuous. For example: 

•    Nearly half of DC children (45 percent) grow up in neighborhoods of high child poverty.

•    Too many DC children are growing up in neighborhoods without the assets they need to grow up healthy and ready to learn. For example, one-quarter live in neighborhoods without a public library, and more than one-third live in a neighborhood without a grocery store.

Children don’t vote. And poor children and their families are some of the most marginalized in our city. That is why DC Action for Children is here to be the strong voice that children so desperately need.

As we dig into our DC KIDS COUNT data, we are learning more about how poverty has affected outcomes for children and youth in our city. But far from feeling discouraged, we look to our Founding Mothers, fellow child advocates and leaders like Denice Cora-Bramble, for inspiration on how to move the well-being outcomes in the right direction.

All of this year’s honorees understood how deeply linked the issues are that affect children and families in poverty. From health and safety to education and family economic success, we must stay focused on the big picture even as we push for change on several smaller fronts. Our advocacy can only be as strong as the work of our partners in direct service. The bottom line always is, and must continue to be, the well-being of our children and the neighborhoods they are growing up in.
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