All-America Cities Shine in Child Opportunity Index

The recently released Child Opportunity Index provides a snapshot of metro-area performance on providing supports and opportunities for children. All but one of the top five cities and six of the seven cities scoring well from the southern tier of the country are All-America Cities.

The Child Opportunity Index (COI) was compiled by Dolores Acevedo-Garcia and a team of researchers at the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., who created, as a source of data regarding childhood and equality. The Index provides data on 47,000 neighborhoods within the largest 100 metropolitan areas.

The Index, which was highlighted recently in Time and U.S. News & World Report , ranks metro areas on “29 key factors that affect how children experience their neighborhoods in three domains: education, health and environment, and social and economic.”

Interestingly, most of the cities that scored well on the index are in the northern half of the country, above the 37° parallel (top of Arizona across to the bottom of Virginia). The top five performing metro areas were Madison (82), San José (82), Des Moines (81), Bridgeport, CT (81), and Hartford (80). All but Bridgeport have been designated over the years as All-America Cities.

There are only seven cities in the southern tier of the U.S. that score above the national average of 55, and six of those are All-America Cities, including Charlotte (59), Raleigh (74), Durham/Chapel Hill (60), Charleston/North Charleston (57), San Diego/Carlsbad (56) and Austin (67). Nashville, which has not won the designation as an All-America City, is the seventh, at 59.

City results from the COI are somewhat predictable, since, as the authors point out, there are big differences among scores white children (73) compared with Latinx (33) and African-American children (24), a sad testament to our continuing racial disparities. Nonetheless, some cities perform well regardless of their large proportion of people of color, such as metropolitan Raleigh and Charlotte, NC.

Regardless, it’s good to see that many of the cities providing good opportunities for children are also All-America Cities. In addition to civic engagement, we have focused many of our All-America City awards on health, youth and racial equity. And providing opportunities for children is a good place to start!

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