The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) has just released the 2017 Tracking Oregon’s Progress (TOP) report focused on Oregon’s opportunity gap. The report, titled “Toward a Thriving Future: Closing the Opportunity Gap for Oregon’s Kids,” addresses the widening opportunity gap Oregon children face. The circumstances of one’s birth and longstanding patterns of discrimination determine the opportunities that are available and the life paths that are achievable.

Key findings from the report include:

• Child poverty is on the rise, with long-term negative consequences. 47 percent of Oregon children are being raised in low-income families.

• Opportunity partly depends on where a child is raised. In 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties, less than half of the children born into low-income families will reach the middle class or beyond as adults.

• Family structure and circumstances impact children’s future success. Low-income children are more likely to move out of poverty if they are born to married parents, but one-third of Oregon children live with just one parent, and single-parent families are on the rise in rural Oregon.

• Educational disparities begin early and persist. The gap in social and cognitive development between low-income children and their higher-income peers begins in infancy.

However, there is much to be done to improve prospects for Oregon’s children. Highlights include:

• Encourage economically and racially integrated communities by supporting collaborative affordable housing solutions. Increasing the availability of affordable housing in opportunity-rich neighborhoods gives low-income families better access to jobs, high-quality schools and safe communities.

• Strengthen families and foster better child-parent relationships by increasing access to parenting education. Healthy relationships with parents promote brain development.

• Increase the availability of family-wage jobs by supporting small businesses, entrepreneurs and rural job creation.

• Ensure that more children are ready for kindergarten by increasing access to high-quality, affordable early childhood education. Early environments that foster learning, whether in the home or in child care and preschool settings, are critical for future academic success.

The World will run a full report on the opportunity gap low income children are facing in Thursday's edition of the World

OCF is committed to addressing the opportunity gap through partnerships, grantmaking and leadership.

— Oregon Community Foundation

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