JACKSONVILLE, Florida — In an era of diminished public resources, the Jacksonville Children’s Commission has a new tool to use as it makes decisions about future investments and services to the community.
The Map of Child Well-Being in Duval County is part of a groundbreaking study of children in Duval County conducted by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University on behalf of the Children’s Commission. The study was
funded by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.
The study looks at the way in which two dozen different indicators affect children in Duval County, and then maps the results by neighborhood. The result is a graphic depiction of widely varying circumstances in which Duval County children live.
Among the findings:
- There is a “clear spatial division” between eastern and western Duval County, with opportunities for children higher in the east and lower in the west.
- There is a high concentration of opportunity-poor neighborhoods in the urban core.
- Between 1990 and 2009, circumstances improved for children in Southeastern Duval, remained poor for children in the urban core, and declined for children in Southwestern Duval.
Linda Lanier, CEO and executive director of the Children’s Commission, said the study results will be invaluable as the Commission faces the daunting task of continuing its work with what will almost certainly be reduced resources.
“As we look at contraction, reducing and/or redeploying our resources, this study will be an important tool to aid us in making choices,” she said. “It also will give our new city administration deeper insights into the welfare of our children and the way in which the work of the Children’s Commission benefits them.”The study is grounded in the knowledge that “neighborhood conditions and proximity to opportunities such as high-performing schools or sustainable employment have a critical impact on quality of life and self-advancement,” according to the report.
“Racially isolated and economically poor neighborhoods restrict employment options for young people, contribute to poor health, expose children to extremely high rates of crime and violence, and house some of the least-performing schools,” the report states.
“Children who do not see neighbors leaving for work, who are unchallenged in school, who are afraid to go to their local park, and who can’t find healthy food in their community are exposed to cumulative disadvantages that can be hard to overcome.”
“One of the most important points in this study is the multiple dimensions of poverty,” said Sherry Magill, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “Children do not just experience financial want, their entire lives are impacted by substandard circumstances, from health care, to housing to educational opportunity to the employment opportunities of their parents.
“The message for us as a community is that we must address the needs of children in multiple ways. The Children’s Commission does yeoman’s work but they cannot fight this fight alone. Our schools, our health community, builders and developers, bankers, retailers and business owners all have a role to play. And City government stands at the center, as the only entity with the capacity to pull all sectors together and lead a coordinated effort.”
Kirwan researchers draw on a wide array of data from multiple sources to assess the opportunity for Duval County children in three critical arenas – Neighborhood Indicators, Education and School-Related Indicators, and Health and Environmental Indicators.
The study includes data from the Duval County Health Department, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Duval County Public Schools, Florida Department of Education, City of Jacksonville’s Planning and Development Department, U.S. Census Bureau, Environmental Systems Research Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Environmental Protection Agency.
The study vividly details the isolation of African-American children in low opportunity neighborhoods:
- 60% of African American children live in low-opportunity neighborhoods;
- 17% of Asian children live in low-opportunity neighborhoods;
- 17% of Hispanic children live in low-opportunity neighborhoods;
- 17% of Non-Hispanic White children live in low-opportunity neighborhoods.
The study also looks at the health and education status of children by neighborhood. For example, the highest rates of childhood diabetes are in the urban core and southwestern Duval County, with a smaller concentration in the far southeastern area of the county. Rates of childhood asthma, however, are not pronounced in southwestern Duval, but are high in the urban core, the far southeast and at the northern beaches.
On the education front, the study shows that more elementary schools in southwestern Duval have high non-promotion rates (7 -13%) than in the urban core or any other quadrant of the county.
The study includes a comparison of conditions in 1990 and 2009, providing a perspective on how the county’s neighborhoods have changed over two decades. The results show an improvement in opportunities in the Northwest, Northeast and Southeast quadrants, while opportunities declined in the southwestern quadrant and remained stagnant and poor in the urban core.
Finally, the study takes a special look at the New Town Success Zone, that portion of the urban core designated for intensive services modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, detailing a range of demographic data for that neighborhood.
A copy of the complete report and more than five dozen maps can be found HERE.
The Jessie Ball duPont Fund makes grants to more than 330 eligible organizations identified by Mrs. duPont in her will. The Fund has assets of more than $281 million and has awarded $303 million in grants since 1977.