In a new report, Brandeis University named Bakersfield the Worst Place for Kids to Grow Up in America.
The Child Opportunity Index 2.0 examined how neighborhood conditions affect the health and development of children in the United States. The report ranked “Neighborhoods by Child Opportunity from Very Low to Very High in the 100 Largest US Metropolitan Areas Serving Two-Thirds of Children” and examined 29 neighborhood conditions – such as proximity to and enrollment in early childhood education and education , School graduation rates, highly skilled employment, health insurance coverage, vacancy rates and poverty rates – that’s important for children. “
Based on a maximum score of 100, Bakersfield came last dead with a score of 20, with “fifty-one percent of the children [living] in districts with very little chance. “The highest rated metropolitan area was Madison, WI, with a score of 83.
However, some in the community believe that Bakersfield is doing a good job providing resources to children and families in need.
“The problems with poverty come as no surprise to anyone living out here. So you know you have to go through such studies with a grain of salt,” said Kevin Bartl, media communications specialist at First 5 Kern, an organization that funds funds for Programs ready to help children ages 0-5 and their families.
“We have put a lot of money into these types of programs that are specifically aimed at children who are in areas with little opportunity,” said Bartl.
The report also showed that “even on subways with high general opportunities, black and Hispanic children are significantly less likely to have children than white and Asian / Pacific islanders, creating a deep racial / ethnic divide in children’s access to neighborhood opportunities shows. “”
Bakersfield ranked last for White Children’s Opportunities with 38 points, just ahead of McAllen, TX (39). The worst subway area for African American kids was Youngstown OH with 3 points. For Hispanic kids, the worst place growing up is Fresno, CA with a score of 14 (Bakersfield was 6th from the bottom with a score of 17).
“All children deserve the opportunity to develop. The Child Opportunity Index shows us that a child’s birthplace can dramatically affect their entire life, ”said Dr. Richard Besser, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which sponsored the research. “The index shows us where to invest if we really care about justice and justice. We need to look at the policies and systems that led to these differences and work to change them so that all children and families are valued equally. “
You can view a list of child and youth services in the county here and read the full report online.