We begin this report with a tale of two neighborhoods that are close in distance (under 3 miles) but very far apart in terms of the opportunities they offer children. In the first neighborhood, children face a host of obstacles to opportunity and wellbeing. Few attend Pre-K programs and there are limited quality early childhood centers in close proximity. Local schools have high levels of poverty concentration; adults have low levels of educational attainment. The social and economic climate is characterized by high rates of poverty and unemployment. Moreover, high rates of housing vacancy, an absence of healthy food retailers, and very low availability of health facilities signal constrained health and environmental opportunities. In the second neighborhood, child-focused opportunities are plentiful. The educational climate is vibrant with a vast majority of young children attending Pre-K programs, many high quality early childhood education centers nearby, and high levels of education among adults. The social and economic climate is thriving with low rates of poverty and unemployment. Children have ample parks and green spaces, all food outlets are healthy, and there are close to 200 health facilities within 2 miles.
This divergent tale of two neighborhoods shows how vastly opportunities for children can differ within the samemetropolitan area (and within just a few miles). Because neighborhoods have a direct influence on child health anddevelopment, and because children in metropolitan areas face high levels of racial/ethnic segregation, it is critical tounderstand the extent of neighborhood differences at a population level, and how these differences may reinforce (oralleviate) racial/ethnic inequities in child wellbeing. The Child Opportunity Index was designed to rank neighborhoodswithin metropolitan areas based on the opportunities they offer children and to then consider how equitably (or inequitably) children of different racial/ethnic groups are distributed across different levels of opportunity.