We Tried to Find the Most Equal Place in America. It Got Complicated

 ·  Emily Barone, Time Magazine   ·   Link to Article

For nearly 20 years, Dolores Acevedo-Garcia has been collecting data on the access—and lack thereof—that children in neighborhoods across the U.S. have to necessities like healthy food and a good education. She and her team at the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., manage diversitydatakids.org, a data project designed to guide the high-level policy decisions that affect childhood and equality.

This information has helped local policymakers and institutions understand where to target programs to improve outcomes for their cities’ children. For example, last year researchers at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago incorporated the data in an analysis of car accident injury records. They found that injured children who weren’t properly secured in a car seat were more likely to live in neighborhoods that rank low on the Brandeis scale for childhood opportunity. This spurred the hospital to ramp up services that offer free car seats and car safety education to families in those areas.

In Boston, in the summer of 2017, when a community member saw evidence that young people didn’t have enough to eat, that person alerted the Vital Village Network, a group of health care, social services and education workers who create outreach programs in low-rated neighborhoods. Using the Brandeis research in conjunction with food access data, the group launched an app in late 2018 called Abundance Boston that directs residents in those areas to sources of affordable, healthy food ranging from food pantries and farmers’ markets to free spaghetti nights. Hundreds of residents have used the app, ranking and discussing their experiences, which alleviates the stigma of talking about the challenges of feeding their children.

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