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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Louisiana children struggle compared to peers in other states

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Tuesday, January 23, 2024   

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2024 Race for Results report examines child well-being, and finds children of color in Louisiana face significant disparities when compared to their peers across the United States.

According to the report, policy choices at the state and local levels, combined with the lack of support for families, have resulted in poor outcomes for children.

Teresa Falgoust, director of data and research with Agenda for Children, said one major challenge in the state is the poverty levels.

"Just 30% of Black children and 44% of Latino children in Louisiana live in households with incomes above 200% of the Federal Poverty Level," she explained, "and that's really the starting point at which families can make ends meet without having a lot of extra support."

Falgoust added there are ways to improve this, and the report suggests that policies such as the expansion of Medicaid and family tax credits can play a crucial role in strengthening the well-being of families in Louisiana. Other key factors that could benefit families include expanding paid leave for every worker and increasing direct funding for college scholarships for low-income students.

Despite the state's overall performance, she noted there are promising improvements when it comes to education. Falgoust said every year between 2017 and 2020, the number of young adults ages 25 to 29 who have at least an associate's degree has increased across all demographics, and added they are also seeing improvements in literacy across all demographics.

"Another area that Louisiana has done really well in is improving our fourth-grade reading proficiency, among virtually every racial and ethnic group. And some of the reasons that we've seen for that have been we've made some pretty substantial commitments to increasing access to early care and education," she continued.

Falgoust said the report highlights a need to focus on the unique needs of each community to overcome some of the variations in outcomes based on race or ethnicity.

Other suggestions for improvement from the report include target programs and policies to close the well-being gaps for people of color and calls for lawmakers to consider "baby bonds" and children's savings account programs. Recently, Congress reached an agreement to bring back the pandemic-era Child Tax Credit.


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