By Limarie Cabrera
This year the 2019 Data Bulletin is celebrating its fifth year of publication. There was this pressure – much of it self-generated – to say something different, and this year, I was very much afraid that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish that.
At first glance, when you see the Bulletin things seem very much the same on the front cover. We maintained continuity with the graphics and inclusion of basic information about our county’s children. Analyzing the numbers, we still have 1 out of 4 children who are either low income or poor. We also see how the high cost of living here can make it seem downright impossible for families to stake a claim here in this county. We still see racial inequity for children of color. We are also witnessing limited access to programs, whether it be for shelter or early childhood development. These programs could make a fundamental difference for our children today. Programs that could be that one thing that a child needs to access the road to survival and success.
If you’re not angry, you should be. However, in the midst of our anger, we also see the seeds of something hopeful. Something that says what we all do and say can make a difference. On page 3, you will see encouraging evidence of declining poverty rates for children of color. There is also a decline in arrests for the 16 and 17-year-olds that we advocated for so strongly in our Raise the Age initiative. Advocacy often takes years to make an impact, and our work in youth justice since 2012 is no exception.
If you look to the side panels and inserts throughout the Data Bulletin, you will also see a change in the types of data featured as quotes and testimonials have been interspersed among the infographics. This year, we dedicated space to the voices of those affected by issues that are featured and of those who are also working to make a difference on the ground. It’s not enough to slap charts on a page anymore. We wanted the Data Bulletin to be a document that told a story of what matters to all of Westchester’s children. Not only should it depict data and analysis but also it should offer a glimpse into the work involved in make a difference. We spend so much time looking at life through a numerical lens and sometimes forget to take pause and listen to the people who are telling us why this work matters.
What Made the Cut
Is the Data Bulletin “perfect?” Not by a long shot.
As much as we tried, we simply could not access meaningful mental health data despite several requests from our partners. Although sufficient data was not available in time for publishing, these requests did spark a dialogue with the Department of Community Mental Health that we hope will manifest into an online addendum that may be published later on. There were also issues that could not be addressed in this Bulletin simply because we did not have adequate space. Transportation, student debt, substance use – all are meaningful issues that deserve greater attention.
However, when we do focus on an issue, we often latch onto it and never let go. This year’s Data Bulletin dedicated a page each to homelessness and early childhood supports. We wanted to dedicate the time and space into detailing why the work we do here at WCA matters and bring to attention the work that still needs to be done.
A Community Document
In the end, the Data Bulletin is not only a document but a community document. A community document that tells the world that Westchester’s children – our children – are important, and we need to be ready, willing, and able to stomp the ground and shake the rafters to ensure that they are healthy, safe, and well-prepared to face life’s challenges. After you take the time to read this, tell us what you think. Numbers and YOUR voices matter.
Thank you to all who made this work possible.
First, I want to thank Maris and Jessie Krasnow, for generously sponsoring this year’s edition of the Data Bulletin. Thanks to Tara Framer of Tara Framer Design, who held my hand throughout this entire process, patiently listened to me as I went through one cry session, and always took the time to remind me to make room for the story we were told through the numbers. I also want to thank all the staff at WCA, with a special shout out to Onya, who provided much needed editorial assistance, and Josh, who spun up some ninja R coding. Thank you Allison Lake for backing me up when I proposed to her the vision for this year’s Data Bulletin.
Finally, thanks to every single person who came to our public feedback session this summer, and/or took the time to fill out our online survey. You helped make the Data Bulletin what it is today.