Mapping Child Well-Being in Duval County, FL

The Kirwan Institute, with its expertise in opportunity mapping and research on the geographic distribution of opportunity in metropolitan areas, was commissioned and funded by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to assist the Jacksonville Children’s Commission in understanding child well-being in Duval County through opportunity mapping and analysis.

Summary Report (3.2 MB pdf file)Full Report(24.4 MB pdf file)- Front cover and main content (1.7 MB)
– Appendix A, B, C (6.8 MB)
– Appendix D (5.7 MB)
Appendix E, F (6.7 MB)
– Appendix G, reference and back cover(6.5 MB)-New Report Offers Detailed Look at Well-being of Duval County Children

The resulting analysis provides an opportunity mapping framework to help the Children’s Commission target their efforts in fulfilling their mission of “supporting families in their efforts to maximize their children’s potential to be healthy, safe, educated and contributing members of the community.” As the status of children’s well-being is an important barometer for the health and vitality of our society, understanding the current status of child well-being, as well as potential racial, geographic, and economic inequalities among children, can help shape polices intended to overcome inequalities and increase the life chances for all children.

The project consists of three main components:

a) mapping the distribution of comprehensive opportunity for children in Duval County, defined as a combination of neighborhood, educational and health/environmental opportunity;

b) an examination of the impacts of opportunity distribution on children’s health and education outcomes; and

c) a local application of opportunity mapping by analyzing demographic data of children served by the Children’s Commission and neighborhood conditions of the New Town Success Zone.

The major findings from this project are:

1. The comprehensive opportunity map shows a clear spatial division of opportunity between the eastern and western parts of the county and a very high concentration of opportunity-poor neighborhoods in the Urban Core.

2. A historical comparison of comprehensive opportunity maps for 2009 and 1990 shows an overall opportunity improvement for children in the southeastern areas of the county, a persistent concentration of opportunity-poor communities in the Urban Core, and an opportunity decline in areas in the southwest over the last twenty years.

3. Racial overlay analysis on the comprehensive opportunity map reveals a spatial isolation of children of color concentrated in low-opportunity areas. While only 16.56% of white children live in lower opportunity areas, the percentage for African American children is almost 3.5 times higher, at 59.73%. Not surprisingly, only 25.65% of African American children live in higher opportunity areas while 68.3% of white, 68.28% of Asian, and 61.94% of Hispanic children live in higher opportunity areas.

4. Neighborhood poverty rates and a few poverty related indicators (child poverty, unemployment rates and households with public assistance) are strong factors affecting all of the health outcomes. Health Zone 1, with the worst neighborhood conditions, has the highest incidence of diabetes, asthma and teen births.

5. Neighborhood conditions affect educational outcomes for children in Duval County. Mapping analyses of non-promotion rates find that minority student concentrations, school poverty rates, non-white populations, neighborhood poverty, and home ownership rates are all strongly related with non-promotion in elementary schools.

6. A comprehensive opportunity map overlaid with participants in the Children’s Commission programs shows that a higher number of children and families from opportunity-poor communities (69%) are participating in the Children’s Commission programs, and a very high percentage of them are African American.

7. The New Town analysis confirms the need for attention to the area, as it reveals a very high concentration of non-whites (98-100%) alongside a concentration of poverty and low-income families. Two neighborhood schools have a very high percentage of economically disadvantaged students (more than 80% are eligible for free or reduced lunch) and display poor academic performance on math and reading tests compared to
the county average.

This summary report briefly discusses each project component by highlighting findings and maps from each analysis.