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Knowledge From the Field

Racial Gaps in Early Childhood: Socio-Emotional Health, Developmental, and Educational Outcomes Among African-American Boys

Published: April 2011

Publisher(s): National Center for Children in Poverty

Author(s): Aratani, Yumiko; Janice L. Cooper; Vanessa R. Wight

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation

View Report (20 pages; 976KB; PDF)

Area of Focus: Early Learning


The report examines racial gaps in cognitive and socio-emotional development among African-American and white-American boys in early childhood and identifies factors that contribute to early resilience among African-American boys.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

=Evidence of racial gaps in socio-emotional development began as early as nine months and continued until preschool-age, and the gaps remained even after controlling for demographic and family characteristics, but they were no longer significant at kindergarten.

=Racial gaps, though small, emerged in cognitive development at 24 months and remained after accounting for racial differences in demographic and family characteristics.

=Racial disparities in math and reading scores appeared to be largely due to differences in demographic and family characteristics, such as low birthweight, socio-economic status, and financial resources.

=Among African-American toddlers, maternal education contributed to above average cognitive development; by preschool, maternal mental health and access to toys appeared as protective factors associated with socio-emotional development.

Focus: National

Subjects/Keywords: African American; Cognitive Development; Early Childhood; Infant; Kindergarten; Preschool; Racial Gap; Resilience; Socio-emotional Development; Toddler

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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