Updates showcase new “detailed comparisons” feature

Communities Count has posted 10 new data updates – with interpretation – of indicators about EDUCATION and FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT.  Most of these indicators are also posted on Best Starts for Kids Indicators.  Communities Count interprets data with an equity lens and, when possible, in a policy-informed local context.

Although many of these indicators are familiar to Communities Count audiences, using Tableau for data visualization enables us to present more detailed analyses. To introduce you to this feature – and perhaps entice you to explore it more on your own—we preview a few of these detailed comparisons by race and place:

PLACE MATTERS when looking at differences by race-ethnicity. 

  • Kindergarten readiness: Overall, white, multiple-race, and Asian kindergarteners were most likely to be ready in all 6 skill areas.  This pattern was clear in Seattle School District, where 40% of Black children and 70% of white children were “kindergarten-ready.” In other districts, however, Black and white children showed no differences in kindergarten readiness.
    • Tukwila: 52% of both Black and white children were kindergarten-ready.
    • Auburn: 23% for both Black and white children were kindergarten-ready.
  • 3rd grade reading: Overall, only 7% of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students met 3rd grade reading standards, but in Auburn School District 41% met standards, almost a 6-fold difference.
  • 4th grade math: Overall, only 20% of American Indian/Alaska Native 4th graders met state math standards.  In Auburn School District, however, 55% met state standards
  • Adolescents with adult support:
    • Across all 4 King County regions, white adolescents reported rates of adult support higher than the county average.
    • For all other race/ethnicity groups, living in South Region was associated with adult support levels below the King County average.
    • And for American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, and Black adolescents, living in Seattle was also associated with below-average adult support; for adolescents in these 3 groups living in East and North regions, however, rates of adults support did not differ from the county average.

 

Here are links to the 10 new updates, with samples of 2 of 3 findings for each:

  • Child care affordability
    • 76% of preschool-aged children (6 months to 5 years old) in King County were in regularly scheduled non-parental childcare. Among the parents/guardians of those children, 69% said their childcare was affordable.
    • 41% of children in kindergarten through 5th grade were in regularly scheduled before- and/or after-school care; among their parents/guardians, 76% said their childcare was affordable.
  • Daily Reading, Singing & Telling Stories to Young Children
    • Overall, 73% of parents/guardians of children age 6 months to 5 years reported reading, singing, or telling stories to their children every day.
    • Daily reading, singing, or telling stories occurred in 45% of households where Spanish was the language most often spoken at home, significantly below the county average.
    • There were no differences by income, education, or King County region.
  • Emotional Support for Parenting
    • 75% of parents and caregivers reported that, during the past 12 months, they had someone to turn to for day-to-day emotional support with parenting or raising children.
    • At 94%, parents of American Indian/Alaska Native children were most likely to report having someone to turn to for day-to-day emotional support for parenting.
    • Parents and caregivers were most likely to have support with parenting if English was the language most commonly spoken at home.
  • Adolescents with Adult Support  [NEW INDICATOR]
    • 75% of King County 8th, 10th, and 12th graders reported having a supportive adult in their neighborhood or community who they “could talk to about something important.”
    • Since 2004, disparities by both race and place – have increased (see trends). Averaging data from 2014 and 2016,
      • 83% of white students could turn to a supportive adult in their neighborhood or community compared to 63% of Latino students.
      • South Region students (69%) were least likely to have an adult they could talk to, compared to 81% of students in East Region.
    • Mother’s education was a strong predictor of whether students had adult support, with more education predicting a greater chance of having support.
  • Youth in School or working  [NEW INDICATOR]
    • Of youth ages 16 to 24 in King County, 90% were connected to their communities either through employment or enrollment in school.
    • At 93%, Seattle had the highest rate of youth engagement.
    • Asian youth had the highest rate (93%) of being in school or employed.
  • Kindergarten Readiness
    • Fewer than half (47%) of King County students entering state-funded, full-day kindergarten had the skills expected for school readiness.
    • Even “next-door neighbors” varied considerably in the proportion of kindergarteners with the skills expected of 5-year-olds, from 21% in Auburn to 58% in neighboring Enumclaw.
    • Children who were white, 2 or more races, or Asian were most likely to display readiness in 6 specific skill areas.
  • 3rd Grade reading
    • 62% of King County 3rd graders met state reading standards.
    • Girls were more likely than boys to meet reading standards.
    • At 83%, 3rd graders in Mercer Island were most likely to meet reading standards, compared to only 36% of students in Highline District.
  • 4th Grade Math
    • 64% of King County 4th graders met state math standards.
    • 4thgraders who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals are considered low-income, and were less likely to meet math standards than those who were not considered low-income (40% vs. 75%).
    • Only 20% of 4th grade students in foster care met math standards.
  • Chronic Absenteeism  [NEW INDICATOR]
    • In the 2014-2015 school year, 14% of King County students were chronically absent.
    • Students who qualified for free or reduced-price school meals were twice as likely to be chronically absent as those who were not low-income (21% vs. 9%, respectively).
    • Highline and Federal Way School Districts reported the highest rate chronic absenteeism (20%); the lowest rate was in Issaquah School District (6%).
  • Child Abuse & Neglect
    • Investigations and assessments by Child Protective Services declined from a high of 9,756 King County households in 2007 to 8,238 in 2016.
    • Similarly, the rate of children in foster care declined from 5.72 per 1,000 in 2000 to 3.44 per 1,000 in 2017.
    • Despite these declines, the likelihood of being placed in out-of-home care in 2017 was disproportionately high for children who were American Indian / Alaska Native, Black / African American, or Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander.

Communities Count is pleased to have new data sources for (i) Child Care; (ii) Reading, Singing & Telling Stories to Children; (iii) Emotional Support for Parenting; (iv) Kindergarten Readiness; and (v) Child Abuse & Neglect.  Previous data came from:

  • The Communities Count Survey (indicators I, ii, and iii); questions about these topics are now included in the Best Starts for Kids Survey, which received responses from a representative sample of almost 6,000 parents and guardians of children from 6 months old through 5th grade! Best Starts for Kids will repeat this survey within the coming year and then again 2 years later.
  • The Early Development Instrument (EDI) (indicator iv), which was replaced by the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS).
  • The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services’ famlink database (indicator v), which Partners for Our Children, a collaboration between the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, University of Washington School of Social Work, and private sector funding.

Child poverty moves south from Seattle

Twenty years ago, 1 in 5 Seattle children aged 5-17 years old (>12,000) lived in poverty. Poverty among school-aged Seattle children peaked in 1997 – 13 to 16 years before all school districts in the county experienced recession-linked surges in student poverty.  By the “post-recession” year of 2016, the picture had changed dramatically, according to data prepared by the Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE).

The rates and numbers of school-aged children living in poverty have continued to decline in Seattle, and have returned to pre-recession levels in many King County school districts.  But the overall number has increased – from 28,971 in 1997 to 31,259 in 2016 – with most of the increase coming from a cluster of South Region districts that are accommodating the county’s re-distribution of poverty.

On one end of the see-saw, Seattle’s share of the county’s low-income children dropped from 42% in 1997 to 21% in 2016.  On the other end, the South Region school districts of Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, and Tukwila, which together contributed only 39% of school-aged poverty in 1997, are now responsible for educating 55% of the county’s students living in poverty.  All 6 districts have double-digit rates of student poverty, from 13% in Kent to 29% in Tukwila.  And none have returned to pre-recession levels of school-aged poverty.

Given the stratospheric rise in Seattle housing costs, it seems likely that child poverty in Seattle schools has declined (down to 10%, from a high of 19%) because poor families couldn’t afford to stay.  Families – and school districts – in Seattle and many East Region cities benefit from the region’s strong economic recovery. In future blogs, we will look school funding, health, and academic progress to see how South Region school districts are coping with an influx of children whose families aren’t doing as well economically.

See recent updates by school district to Communities Count education indicators and Best Starts for Kids indicators.

Home-grown workers need better education, more tech skills.

In a recent speech at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Brookings Institution vice president and Metropolitan Policy Program director Amy Liu stressed the importance of improving education and skills training for our regional workforce.  She noted that only 33% of 25-34 year-old workers born in Washington have a bachelor’s degree or higher – a level of education increasingly needed to secure living-wage jobs in a modern economy.  To make up for this deficit, regional employers rely on transplants – from other states and countries.

educated-workforce

 

A peek at the Employment Security Department’s  top 25 occupations advertised online for King County in September reveals a high concentration of living-wage jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree, often coupled with additional training, experience, licensing, or credentials. For example, the top 7 occupations accounted for 21,117 job postings.  Of those:

  • Only 1 (registered nurse, with 2,451 job postings and an average annual salary of $85,897) does not require a bachelor’s degree.
  • The other 6 occupations (software developers, “other computer occupations,” marketing managers, web developers, network and computer systems administrators, and computer systems analysts) all require at least a bachelor’s degree, and pay an average salary of $109,612.

Even if the skills needed to do a job haven’t changed, the qualifications needed to get the job probably have.  How the Recession ‘Upskilled’ Your Job, a posting on The Atlantic’s CITYLAB, uses data from the National Bureau of Economic Research to show how employers use recessions to restructure their work forces. In 2015, online job ads were 12% more likely to require more education, more experience, or more specific cognitive skills – for the same job – compared to pre-recession postings.

In King County, however, tech skills are highly valued, and this is reflected in the specific skills included in job postings.  Only 4 of the 25 top skills listed in the past 3 months of online ads were non-technical (quality assurance, customer relationship management, pediatrics, and bilingual).

25-top-skills

Today’s workers need to “upskill” – both for jobs that haven’t really changed much and for those that depend on regular upgrading of skills and education.  Amy Liu called on government, educators, and employers to help bridge the skills gap:   “The region can build on its promising efforts by focusing on helping local students and working-age adults gain the education and skills needed to attain good jobs generated by its robust economy.”

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Washington’s Employment Security Department provides extensive information about different occupations, including wage estimates, job listings, employment requirements, training opportunities, and whether demand is rising, falling, or staying the same.   The WorkForce  website offers an assortment of tools and resources for job-seekers and employers.  King County’s Office of Economic and Financial Analysis has recently updated data on employment trends in King County and on associations between educational attainment and wages and employment.

Seattle Jobs Initiative leads national food-stamps-to-jobs center

The US Department of Agriculture has selected the Seattle Jobs Initiative to create and begin operating the nation’s first Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training “Center of Excellence.” Partnering with the federal Food and Nutrition Service, the Center will help 10 states (as yet unnamed) to build on Seattle Jobs Initiative’s experience in providing education and job training to SNAP participants.

According to KPLU.org, Seattle Jobs Initiative helped Washington state develop a job training program that linked more than 10,000 people to training and apprenticeships in 2013 and 2014. The heart of the new Center will be a digital platform that will enable states to share information, ideas, and tools that help people move to financial independence.

Communities Count’s recently updated food indicators show that, while the King County economy may be booming, the need for food assistance has not declined since the recession.  Not surprisingly, food hardship (running out of food and not having money to buy more) is strongly linked to unemployment.

Early Childhood Key to Education & Health

In a New Public Health Q & A, the director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health goes beyond simplistic explanations of the stronger-than-ever link between education and health. He points out that “health education” is less important than economic opportunity, family-friendly benefits, and early childhood interventions that help children get on a path to success. See Communities Count data on links between education and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), obesity, tobacco use, physical activity, and health insurance.