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The Geography of Child Opportunity: Why Neighborhoods Matter For Equity

by Clemens Noelke; Dolores Acevedo-Garcia; Nancy McArdle

Jan 1, 2020

Neighborhoods matter for children's healthy development. A family's resources affect children's ability to thrive, but the neighborhoods where children grow up are critically important as well. Supportive neighborhood resources and  onditions (e.g., good early childhood education centers and schools, green spaces, and low poverty) can enhancethe effect of protective family factors or mitigate the effects of adverse family factors. This report marks the launch of the Child Opportunity Index 2.0. A stronger and more robust data tool than its predecessor the Child Opportunity Index 1.0, COI 2.0 is the best index of children's contemporary neighborhood opportunity available. We are launching the COI 2.0 data and first findings to support improved understanding of the neighborhoods where our children are growing up today and spur actions to improve neighborhood environment for all children.

In 2014, we launched the Child Opportunity Index to provide the first data resource on child opportunity in  neighborhoods across the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. Since then, we have seen growing research evidence and awareness of the effects of neighborhoods on children. We have also witnessed increasing national attention to widening income and wealth inequality and its detrimental consequences for low- and middle-income families, economic growth and social cohesion.

Energized by the availability of the Child Opportunity Index and other neighborhoodlevel data, a wide range of users has employed the COI to learn about and improve neighborhood conditions for children in their communities. These diverse COI users include community organizers, non-profit organizations, government agencies and researchers in sectors such as public health and health care, housing and community development, child welfare, and early care and  ducation. In response to the demand for the COI, diversitydatakids.org has updated and improved the index.