Dear Washington Post: Why Do You Ignore the Futures of Children in Your Own Back Yard?

As the KIDS COUNT organization for DC, we read last week’s Washington Post special section, “Unlocking Our Kids’ Future,” with great interest (reports from the event that inspired the special section are here). But our interest quickly turned to dismay as we realized that nothing in the section addressed the assets and challenges of children in DC. DC is home to 100,000 children under 18 – one in six DC residents. The city’s prosperity rests on their shoulders. They are the next generation of citizens, workers, teachers, parents and leaders. How well they do is critical to our city’s future. Why did the Post ignore them?

We believe that where children live, learn and play deeply affects all aspects of their lives, DC Action for Children has framed its work around one critical question: What kind of place is DC for children?

Our 2012 DC KIDS COUNT “e-Databook” (“e” because it is not actually a book, but instead is a set of online, interactive maps and tools) showed that the success of too many DC children may be predetermined by their ZIP Code – and not their gifts and abilities.

For example:

•    DC children are concentrated in certain areas of the city, with almost 60 percent living in neighborhoods in Northeast and Southeast.
•    Most DC children (46,000, or 45 percent) grow up in neighborhoods where child poverty is above 30 percent.
•    Most DC children grow up in highly racially segregated neighborhoods.
•    Assets and opportunities that promote child and family well-being are not evenly distributed among DC neighborhoods.
•    About 35,000 (35 percent) of DC children live in neighborhoods without a grocery store.
•    More than one-quarter (26,000, or 26 percent) of DC children live in a neighborhood without a library.
•    Nearly 6,500 DC children (6 percent) live in a neighborhood without a recreation center.

We hope that our hometown newspaper will take a greater interest in the children in its own neighborhood in the future.

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