(Photo courtesy NNPA)
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
In 2019, there were more than 73 million children in the United States – making up 22 percent of the nation’s population.
Children of color made up 49.8 percent of all children, and more than half of the 19.6 million children under five in America were individuals of color.
The statistics are part of the nonprofit Children’s Defense Fund’s “The State of America’s Children 2021 report.”
It dovetails with the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest report that changing the United States’ racial makeup is most visible among children.
The Census Bureau found that most children are projected to be of a race other than non-Hispanic White.
“These changes mirror a broader transition in the United States to a more pluralistic population,” Census Bureau officials reported.
The Children’s Defense Fund’s comprehensive report also noted that most children under 18 were children of color in 14 states, including Alaska, California, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Texas, and the District of Columbia.
In 2019 – the latest statistics available, 36.7 million children were White (50.2 percent); 18.7 million were Hispanic (25.6 percent); 10 million were Black (13.7 percent).
Approximately 3.7 million were Asian (5.0 percent), 615,950 were American Indian/Alaska Native (<1 percent), and 147,057 were Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (<1 percent).
Previous estimates suggest that most U.S. children are children of color as of 2020, and the U.S. population will continue to become more racially and ethnically diverse.
“The U.S. – and especially our youngest generation – is reaching a critical moment in racial and ethnic diversity,” Dr. Starsky Wilson, president, and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund, told the Black Press in a live interview.
“We need policies and programs that recognize and celebrate this growing diversity.”
The State of America’s Children 2021 summarizes the status of America’s children in 12 areas – child population, child poverty, income and wealth inequality, housing and homelessness, child hunger and nutrition, child health, early childhood, education, child welfare, youth justice, gun violence, and immigration.
Dr. Wilson remarked that America needs to better look after its children.
“Our children have lost the health coverage they need to survive and thrive at an alarming rate,” he stated.
Dr. Wilson noted that the Children’s Defense Fund’s new report revealed that an estimated 4.4 million children under age 19 were uninsured—an increase of 320,000 more children without health insurance since 2018.
“The rates of uninsured children are especially high among Hispanic children, undocumented children, children living in the South, and children in families with lower incomes,” Dr. Wilson added from the report. Medicaid and CHIP are the foundation of the nation’s health insurance system for children.
In 2019, nearly 36 million children under 19 received comprehensive, pediatric-appropriate, and affordable health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP.
“While more than 3 million children and youth have contracted the novel coronavirus in the United States, all 73 million are impacted by the sense of uncertainty and disruption of routine it has caused,” Dr. Wilson insisted.
“Even the improvements in the second school year of online learning have not resolved concerns of social isolation and the loss of important life milestones, like graduation and the high school prom. This loss of certainty, consistent routine, and the connection is leading to increased levels of depression and despair among our children and youth.”
The fight for social justice and criminal justice reform could not be accomplished without considering children, Dr. Wilson insisted.
“The protracted struggle for democracy led to a change in partisan control of the federal government and a first in executive leadership for women, Black, and South Asian Americans,” Dr. Wilson exclaimed.
“But it can’t be that we forget about the future generation, where now children of color make up the majority.”