Pensacola News Journal | by Jim Little | December 9, 2020
A report released last week from Achieve Escambia highlights the disparities Black children face in Escambia County as the process begins to form the Children’s Services Council approved by voters in November.
Achieve Escambia released a community report called “Achieving Equity” that examined 45 indicators of education, health and a career-ready workforce in Escambia County.
The report looked specifically at the gap between the Black and the white, non-Hispanic population.
It found that Black children in Escambia County are three times more likely to be living in poverty as white children, with the poverty rate for Black children at 39% and white children at 13%.
Achieve Escambia Executive Director Kimberly Krupa told the News Journal it was one of the starkest figures to come out of the report.
“For me, that’s just the starting point for every conversation that needs to take place in Escambia County,” Krupa said. “It’s fundamental to infant mortality to single moms to juvenile incarceration, the workforce disconnection that we see later on in life, but fundamentally it starts with this inequity.”
The report also highlights other disparities in Escambia County.
It found that white students make up 47% of the student population while Black students make up 35%, but Black students were targeted for 64% of disciplinary infractions compared to 25% for white students during the 2018-19 school year.
Krupa said the report breaking down the disparities by race was “eye-opening” and to see how they were tied to each other. She said students who face suspension at school become more likely to face juvenile arrest.
Data shows Blacks comprised 74% of the arrests in Escambia County for juveniles between the ages of 10 and 17.
“I think that all of these indicators work together and intersect to give us the types of outcomes that we’re seeing on the later side of a teen, young adult,” Krupa said. “It’s why one out of five Black young adults are not employed and not in school in Escambia County.”
Krupa said she hopes the report is a starting point for the new Children’s Services Council that will be seated in 2021.
Trust created to help children
Sixty-one percent of voters approved the creation of the Escambia Children’s Trust.
The trust will generate about $8 million a year in new tax revenue that will be spent on programs that help children. Krupa said the trust will make generational investments that will have a real impact on the community.
“We’re not talking about a shot in the dark. We’re not talking about a one-year grant,” Krupa said. “We’re talking about matching these egregious disparities with the type of deep systemic investments they deserve. That’s the only thing that’s going to pull us out of the bottom.”
Photo: Director Kimberly Krupa speaks during the Achieve Escambia Launch event for its 2018 community report at the C. A. Weis Elementary Community School in Pensacola on Wednesday, August 29, 2018. Gregg Pachkowski