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Economic situations of minority children discussed at Heller

By Dori Cohen

Section: Front Page, News

October 5, 2012

Professor Dolores Acevedo-Garcia (HS), Director of the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, spoke Tuesday at the Irving Schneider and Family Building in a lecture titled “Using Data and Policy Indicators to Monitor Diversity and Equity Among America’s Children.”

Acevedo-Garcia, the Samuel F. and Rose B. Gingold Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, discussed a new website of which she is project director, DiversityDataKids.org, a tool designed “to provide strong data indicators and analyses of racial diversity and equity among the child population in the United States,” she said.

According to Acevedo-Garcia, the child population in the United States is becoming more diverse with each passing year and, paired with ethnic differences among children, leads to greater economic disparities and fewer education opportunities for minority children.
The new website, is funded by the W. K. Kellogg foundation. The Kellogg foundation’s mission is to support “children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society,” according to the foundation’s website.

The website will allow its users to collect data in order to see a systematic picture of how disparities among children change in different geographic locations and if current policies are helping to close the gap between the opportunities offered to children of different backgrounds.
“For example,” said Acevedo-Garcia, “in 2010 it was found that 43 percent of black and Latino kids went to schools with poverty rates of 80 percent or higher, while for white students it was only 4 percent.”

DiversityDataKids.org will “showcase policy solutions and gaps using an equity lens, and conduct analyses of the obtained data,” Acevedo-Garcia said. “This will lead to more knowledge on the imbalance that exists between opportunities given to different racial groups, and more efforts to get rid of those disparities.”

The lecture was part of the “Tuesday Talks” project, a lecture series held by the Heller School for Social Policy and Management on select Tuesdays throughout the year. Although the lecture was scheduled to begin at 12:30, seats were filled as early as 20 minutes beforehand, most of them taken by fellow Heller School professors or other Brandeis faculty members.

The lecture was very well received, ending with applause and 15 extra minutes of questions, showing the concern and interest that the audience members had in the subject.

“I was really excited to come to this lecture,” said Mary Brolin, a Scientist at the Schneider Institute for Behavioral Health within the Heller School. “The work that they are doing is very important. We don’t have all the information about child economic and educational disparities accessible to us now, and Professor Acevedo-Garcia’s new website will help make that information more readily available, leading, hopefully, to better policy decisions on the matter.”

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