Recently, the Data and Research team at Voices for Virginia’s Children conducted community equity assessments for two Trauma-Informed Community Networks (TICNs) in Virginia. These Trauma-Informed Community Networks work to identify policies that can be implemented to advance trauma-informed policy and promote a statewide policy agenda. Voices has conducted equity assessments for the Greater Richmond area TICN and the Southwest Virginia TICN (for more information on these TICNs, contact the Greater Richmond TICN, or the Southwest Virginia TICN). The assessments created for these organizations include locality level data that describe health and wellbeing of children, youth, and families at the locality level over time using the KIDS COUNT data across domains like health, access, education, and community wealth. The data in these types of assessments not only educate the public on the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve, but also assist in helping advocates in prioritizing future areas of focus. This assessment describes trends that allow for further investigation into the “why”, and looks to attendees as the experts in their communities to understand the reasons behind the trends.
Equity assessments are an excellent way to put data into action for communities, especially when the data can be broken down to look closely at sub-populations of children. Disaggregating data geographically, racially, by age group, and economic perspective is vital in discerning how policies can disproportionately impact different communities.
A typical equity assessment will include both an education component as well as data. All assessments start with a grounding of why data and equity are important and then conclude with a data summary including tailored visualizations by each geography of interest. These assessments can be used for policy advocacy efforts for communities all across Virginia to facilitate policy change in a multitude of different areas related to children and their families.
The Southwest Virginia Trauma Informed Community Network (TICN) wanted to learn more about children living below the federal poverty line in Southwest Virginia counties. We found that the regional average of children living below the poverty line was 25.8% for Southwest Virginia; However, to see the full picture of child health and well-being, we need this data to be broken down even further. Upon examination, we found that Black children, Hispanic children, and children of two or more races were overrepresented living in poverty in the majority of Southwest Virginia counties. By disaggregating this data by race/ethnicity, as well as by location, the Southwest TICN can get the best picture of what each county needs and can make informed decisions on what is best for all children living in Southwest Virginia.