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Report: Race And Class Influence Children's Access To Healthcare And Education

Louisa Jonas
Texas Public Radio
Researchers present their findings in the State of Texas Children 2016 report Race and Equity in San Antonio.

For the half million children in the San Antonio metro area, access to healthcare, education and income often is influenced by their race and class, according to a report by the Center for Public Policy Priorities that focuses on low-income issues.

In Bexar County more than a 25 percent of children lack consistent access to adequate food. Almost 25 percent of women of childbearing age lack health insurance.  And Hispanics are the ethnic group most affected by that disparity.

When it comes to health insurance, the gap between white and African American children throughout Texas and San Antonio has closed.  But for Latinos the story is different.  Jennifer Lee is a research associate at the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

"There are still barriers we see for Latino children, in particular. Latino children, both in San Antonio and statewide, are more likely to be uninsured than white children," Lee says.

One reason for the gap is that a higher percentage of Latino parents work in jobs without affordable health insurance, Lee says. They may be able to pay for their own insurance but family coverage is too expensive.  And if the parents are uninsured, there’s a greater chance their children will be uninsured.

Another disparity along racial lines is teacher turnover rate which can negatively affect student performance.  According to the report, black and Hispanic children in Bexar County are more likely to be in schools where faculty changes frequently.  With PreK 4 SA, San Antonio has taken a step toward providing high quality early childhood education. UTSA Sociology Professor Harriett Rome says the availability of that education is crucial.

"Because they spend a lot of time in these institutional settings. If they’re not being stimulated, if they’re not being supported to do the best they can do, or develop the best skills that they have, we’re doing them a big disservice," Rome says.

Kevin Moriarty is the president and CEO of Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas. He says local and state governments in Texas have a philosophy that’s anti-services.

"We’re a state that has money, has resources, has income, and we just do not put those resources into our education system or into our healthcare system for children. We don’t pay for pre-k. We don’t pay for additional Headstart for children. We don’t provide enough daycare. We don’t provide enough supports to young moms who are pregnant," Moriarty says.

To give all children the same chance, that needs to change, he says.