Widening disparities, despite some progress, for Utah children of color

While lawmakers took some important steps toward addressing disparities during the 2017 Legislative Session, a new report by Voices for Utah Children reveals many missed opportunities and reviews the potential impact on children going forward.

The report, released just as the Legislature begins its summer meetings, provides recommendations to advance equity for children of all racial and ethnic backgrounds in Utah. 

In the areas reviewed by the report—education, civil liberties and juvenile justice, health and poverty— there are significant social, economic, and health inequities affecting children of color and immigrant children in Utah. For example:

  • Latino children are twice as likely (30%) to experience adverse, traumatic or stressful conditions, compared to White children (14%).
  • Children of color in Utah make up almost 40% of Title I school enrollees, pre K-12th grade, but account for only 25% of the total child population.
  • Native American and Black children are more likely to experience harsh school disciplinary action.
  • Women of color are at least 3x less likely to receive timely prenatal care, compared to White women. Babies of mothers who do not get timely prenatal care are at a greater risk for poor health outcomes.

The report notes that this past year, the Utah Legislature took important steps forward: increasing access to optional extended day kindergarten, reforming Utah’s juvenile justice system, improving access to medical care and considering tax proposals to lift more families out of poverty. But the report cites missed opportunities, and even new barriers, to reduce disparities, calling for actions to go farther. 

“We continue to see disparities along racial and ethnic lines,” said Lincoln Nehring, President and CEO of Voices for Utah Children. “We must do more to correct these disparities and invest in Utah’s diverse future.”

The report lists several strategies state leaders and lawmakers can adopt to ensure that state policy contributes toward equity for children of all races and ethnicities:

  • Collect, disaggregate and disseminate more child-specific data by race and ethnicity
  • Work with affected communities when developing legislation
  • Review the impact that legislation will have on different racial, ethnic and immigrant groups, recognizing that some communities may need different resources to achieve similar outcomes.

For more information, see the complete report click here.