Data Updates: Every Ward Counts

As the population demographics in DC change rapidly, it is important to track how children in all wards are progressing. Right now, we are finishing updates to our DC KIDS COUNT Ward Snapshots with new data from city agencies and the 2007-2011 American Community Survey. As we reviewed these new data sets, we looked for striking changes in outcomes and population trends for children in DC. We hope the following insights will help policymakers, service providers and advocates better understand the communities they are serving, and drive forward policies that are aligned to the needs of children in all areas of the city.

Before we release the updated Ward Snapshots, here is a preview of some interesting changes we noticed, comparing the most recent data to 2000:

The Good News:

  • DC as a whole is now home to more residents with a high school diploma, with all Wards reporting rates at 80% or higher.

  • Wards 1 and 6 show the greatest increases in homeownership.

  • The percentage of children in poverty has declined slightly across DC and in six of the eight wards. 

  • In Ward 8, outcomes for newborns are improving across the board. The teen birth rate, the infant mortality rate and the percentage of infants with low birth weights are all down.

The Not-So-Good News:

  • The population under age 18 has decreased by 10% when compared to the 2000 Census records and only in Ward 3 has this cohort increased.

  • Unfortunately, citywide trends towards greater economic prosperity for families are not evenly distributed. While median family income increased by nearly 150% in Wards 6 and 2, Wards 4, 7, and 8 saw decreases.

  • While more residents have high school diplomas, K-12 school enrollment in DC has decreased by 8%.

Beyond the numbers, we need to understand what the root causes of these changes are and create a plan to improve all indicators of children’s well-being in all wards. We can provide the numbers and the analysis of change for policymakers and the public, but we want to encourage our partners to take action beyond the data analysis to improve the well-being of all children in DC.

Data analysis alone will not spur the changes needed. DC Action plans to use this new analysis of DC’s wards as a tool to help us improve our advocacy on behalf of children as we finish our legislative rounds for 2013 and get a strong start on 2014.

Photo, DC Map 1888 via Leeann Cafferata on Flickr

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