Second Edition of Groundbreaking Risk and Reach Report Assists Advocates

The Illinois Risk and Reach Report is a powerful resource to help answer the question, “do babies and young children in Illinois have equitable access to high-quality programs/services that support their development, particularly children from historically marginalized groups?”

Using colorful maps, the report shows the size and location of 15 risk indicators that undermine optimal child development in relation to 19 reach indicators on programs and services that support child well-being. Data are organized by the three domains that define and inform early experiences: Family Stability, Health, and Early Care and Education. Where possible, indicators are disaggregated by race and ethnicity at the state level to better understand disparities and inform strategies to alleviate risks.

In keeping with Erikson’s goal to “democratize data” in ways that empower those impacted by systemic issues such as of lack of access to resources, the report is accessible to the public via the Risk and Reach website. Recently, the Risk and Reach website was updated with improved interactive maps that allow users to compare data from 2016 and 2019 by county and legislative district to make connections and identify trends.

Directed at a range of stakeholders including parents, policy makers, service providers, students, and elected officials, the goal of the report is to provide comprehensive data that can be explored in the context of local needs and resources, so that proposed actions to help young children and their families can be most effective.

“Taken together, the data in the Report can help challenge assumptions, as risk exists across the state, and indicate where efforts to mitigate risk seem to be working—thus providing potential solutions for more communities,” said Maura Daly, Erikson’s Chief External Affairs Officer.

Top takeaways from the report

  • Illinois has seen a 3% decrease in the child population under the age of five with 945,752 in 2016 and 916,880 in 2019. Possible reasons for this could be the state’s general population decrease, a downward trend in the state’s birthrate; and, possibly, the well-known issue of a Census undercount of children aged 5 and under. Children aged 5 and under make up 7.32% of Illinois’ population.
  • The percent of Black and Latinx children aged 5 and under experiencing poverty decreased by 6 and 3 percentage points respectively since 2016; however, they still experience poverty at higher rates than other racial/ethnic groups. 2019 data shows 42.25% and 25.34% of Black and Latinx children, respectively, were living below or at 100% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • The rate of reported abuse and neglect has increased. In 2019, the child maltreatment rate for children aged 5 and under was 19 per 1,000 children, up from 14 per 1,000 in 2016. In conjunction with this increase, the percent of children aged 5 and under in substitute care attaining permanent homes within 12 months slightly decreased by 1.9 percent in 2019. This data point may be attributed to an increase in reporting either by families or the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Examples of Impact

Already, the report is having an impact–informing policymakers, advocates, and funders across the state. Erikson’s Policy and Leadership team, which led the production and release of Risk and Reach, has facilitated multiple presentations to the state’s Children’s Health Legislative Caucus, consisting of state senators and representatives, to help inform decision making; and to the Illinois Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which uses the Report to inform advocacy efforts for early childhood education programming for their clients. The grantmaking working group for the Illinois Covid-19 Response Fund also utilized data in the Report to identify areas most in need of support.

Risk and Reach was produced by Erikson Institute in partnership with Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Voices for Illinois Children, and The Risk and Reach Advisory Council, a group of more than 40 stakeholders from across the state, guided the partners work. The Report is generously funded by the Irving Harris Foundation, Pritzker Children’s Initiative, and Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development.

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