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Black, Latino Kids in Oklahoma Far More Likely to Live in High-Poverty Areas

Oklahoma Policy Institute

More than one in 10 Oklahoma kids live in an area where at least 30% of residents fall below the poverty line.

That’s a slight improvement from five years ago, but the racial disparities of concentrated poverty have not gotten any better.

"Black children are nearly six times as likely than white children to live in high-poverty neighborhoods, and Latino children are more than four times as likely than their white peers to live in concentrated poverty," said Oklahoma Policy Institute KIDS Count Coordinator Rebecca Fine.

The information comes from a new data snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Fine said the disparities are not a surprise.

"Past and present policies have disadvantaged communities of color, making it harder for them to buy homes, to access high-quality and high-paying jobs, and to give them access to high-quality schools," Fine said.

People living in concentrated poverty are more likely to experience chronic stress, which is linked to future health problems like heart disease and depression. Children living in poverty are also more likely to experience hazards like pollution and lead, and less likely to have access to healthy foods and medical care.

"So, living in neighborhoods of high-concentration poverty undermines child wellbeing and their ability to thrive in the future," Fine said.

Fine said lawmakers could help by restoring refundability of the state Earned Income Tax Credit, expanding Medicaid and boosting public school funding.