Based on the data, the future is promising
United Way of Greater Atlanta on May 9 at its annual State of The Children event reported out the progress made in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties to improve the well-being of its children.
A previous Child Well-Being Score of 58.9 had improved in two years to 61.8. That equates to a change in the lives of more than 82,000 children in the region living in low or very low child well-being. United Way is on its way to reaching the goal of improving the lives of 250,000 children by 2027.
This means the movement is working, according to United Way of Greater Atlanta President and CEO Milton Little Jr.
Little presented this at the Omni Hotel in downtown Atlanta to a room full of volunteers, donors and stakeholders May 9. Little highlighted the importance partnership played in making drastic improvements in such a short time.
“You are here this morning because you invested in the future of this community,” Little said.
“No one organization can change the lives of the more than 1.3 million children living in Greater Atlanta. The differences we have made these last two years have come in large part because of partnerships.”
United Way saw two years ago after its strategic planning meeting that the zip code a child lived in too often determined the fate of that child. United Way saw that children living a few miles away from each other don’t have the same experience.
While some children came to school rested, well fed and prepared for school, others lacked the same access to healthy foods, health care and other community resources.
United Way saw that, statistically, because of what zip code a child was born into, he or she was handed a disadvantage beyond their control.
Through a set of 14 measures, United Way calculated a child well-being score of 58.9. On May 9, Ginneh Baugh, VP of Strategy and Knowledge Development at United Way, reported on new numbers displaying the region’s progress.
Baugh said fewer communities in 2018 displayed low or very low child well-being scores. Those numbers dropped from 38.7 percent of the region to 30.6.
Baugh said while our average for the region was 58.9, there was a 40-point gap between the low and high child well-being communities. We saw the greatest improvements in Clayton and DeKalb County.
“We’ve made place a priority,” Baugh said. “You can say, ‘Yes, we’ve raised the score overall,’ but what’s happening to those places that have lower scores? When you look at the map it’s a little disheartening to see places with scores below a 55.”
United Way put a focus on those areas of the map, though, Baugh says.
“Now we can say there are fewer communities with low or very low child well-being,” she said. “We’re making progress in the places that matter.”
This kind of progress is taking place across the region, and it’s encouraging, Baugh says. There’s a continued trend in improved graduation rates and children getting access to health care. Clayton County, which had a previous score of 36 in 2016, improved to 41 in 2018.
But there’s still work to be done. You can learn more about this work and how you can contribute by checking out United Way’s 2018 Stakeholder Report.
There are still gaps to be addressed, Baugh says. For example, African-American children are twice as likely to be born underweight, and Hispanic youth are still less likely to graduate from high school.
“We can’t stand still and say all the children are well when we’ve got these disparities,” Baugh says. “That’s part of our journey ahead.
“Based on the data, the future is promising.”
Little echoed this in his closing remarks.
“The path to a thriving community starts with the children,” Little said. “A community a can say it is thriving only when all its children are thriving. We need to keep building that infrastructure of partnerships that make progress systematic and gains sustainable.
“Here at United Way, we will continue to focus our resources on powering the progress and orchestrating the partnerships that underlie it.”
Bradley Roberts is a Content Manager at United Way of Greater Atlanta.