How Are New Orleans Youth Really Doing?

BCM Funds Reliable Answers From The Data Center

Almost 44 percent of New Orleans children under 18 live in poverty.  24 percent did not get at least one hour of physical activity in the last week.  Teen birth rates–39 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 29–exceed national rates of 31 per 1,000 females in this age rage.

On the positive side, New Orleans students are doing better on school performance tests, rising from 22 to 28 percent on one “mastery” measure in third to eighth grades.  High school graduation rates are improving, too, from 54 percent in 2004 to 73 percent in 2014.

These are some of the illuminating facts from the new publication, The New Orleans Youth Index 2015, produced by the highly respected local nonprofit, The Data Center, and funded by a three-year transom grant from Baptist Community Ministries.

The Youth Index is “big data” for a big project. It gives the BCM-funded YouthShift initiative the data needed for its plan to transform the lives of children and youth in need.  It was intentionally co-released in late 2015 with A Call for Connection, YouthShift’s latest publication.  Both reports represent BCM’s commitment to make a real difference in the lives of the region’s children and youth.

The Youth Index serves as a valuable resource to anyone interested in an accurate look at local youth and their challenges.  It breaks new ground in comprehensive, precise and current data reporting.

Allison Plyer, Executive Director of the New Orleans Community Data Center, which produced the BCM-funded The New Orleans Index 2015.

Allison Plyer, Executive Director of the New Orleans Community Data Center, which produced the BCM-funded The New Orleans Index 2015.

“The first step in any planning effort is development of a baseline. The Youth Index provides that baseline to YouthShift,” says Vicki Mack, MHA, PhD, Senior Research Fellow at The Data Center and principal author of The Youth Index.  “It is a statistical snapshot of the well-being of New Orleans children and youth in the 22 areas identified by the community as important to the success of young people.  It is designed to inform the development of strategies that can improve their academic, social and behavioral outcomes.”

This new publication builds on The Data Center’s previous, widely cited reports that called attention to the high child poverty rate in New Orleans and effects of post-Katrina educational reforms on local students.

Dr. Mack adds, “The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. In New Orleans, how successful we are in raising that next generation is a collective concern.” 

Founded in 1997 with support from BCM, The Data Center, formerly known as the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, is an independent resource for data serving southeast Louisiana. It is most well known for tracking recovery of the region through publication of The New Orleans Index series developed in partnership with the Brookings Institution. It works as an objective partner to bring reliable, thoroughly researched data to conversations about building a more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable region.

How Are New Orleans Children Doing?

Health and Well-being
In 2010, 13 allegations of abuse and neglect per 1,000 children were reported in New Orleans, compared to 23 per 1,000 children in Louisiana.  Overall, New Orleans fares better than the state on this indicator.

Economic Stability
In 2014, 43.8 percent of New Orleans children under 18 were in poverty, a much higher percentage than the 27.9 percent in the state as a whole and the 21.7 percent in the U.S.

In 2015, 56 percent of New Orleans third graders scored at basic or above on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test of English language skills.  Statewide, 63 percent scored at basic or above.

Space and Place
In 2014, 220 homeless children under 18 lived in the New Orleans area. Most, 162, lived with at least one adult, while 58 had no adult present.  Overall, in Louisiana, 733 homeless children lived with at least one adult, and 127 had no adult present.

Safety and Justice
New Orleans schools are more likely to suspend students out-of-school compared to all other parishes.  The higher rates of out-of-school suspensions have been consistent for several years.  In 2013, 87 percent of New Orleans suspensions were out-of-school suspensions compared to 39 percent in all other parishes. Similarly in 2012, 86 percent of New Orleans suspensions were out-of-school suspensions compared to 41 percent in all other parishes.

The Youth Index data indicators are based on literature developed by the respected Forum for Youth Investment. 
They Include:

  • Children and youth succeeding in school.
  • Children introduced to the concepts of work, youth and young adults ready for work.
  • Children and youth making healthy choices.
  • Children and youth having positive relationships with peers and adults.
  • Children and youth contributing to their community.