When the Community Snapshots first started, they included only five cities in Westchester County—Peekskill, White Plains, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, & Yonkers. In the following years, WCA expanded coverage to include Ossining and Mamaroneck. We were unable to produce snapshots for towns like Greenburgh and Bedford because there was too great a margin for error in small geographies.
However, all of you—our readers and colleagues—kept asking for snapshots for smaller communities and towns. But we were purists. We resisted. Then, this year, it just became clear to us. The whole point of the Community Snapshots is to start a conversation of what it is like to be a child or young adult in a particular community.
Important questions begged answers on a community level
• Does a kid’s experience vary according to race or ethnicity? (Yes.)
• How about socioeconomic status? (Yes again.)
• Do advocates and service providers want this data in order to do a better job of helping kids? (Well, of course!)
We concluded that, even though smaller communities will have a wider margin of error, that’s no excuse to hesitate in the pursuit of clues that reveal something about what it means to be a child in a particular place within Westchester county. If we say that we aim to demand equity for all children—and we do—then we must develop the tools to help us do that.
So we expanded our coverage
We took stock of our resources and skills and realized that, for a couple years now, we’ve been developing our ability to generate Interactive Data Visualizations using a program called Tableau. We got to a point technologically where we could automate much of the data collection. That led us to make some important changes in the way we collect, analyze, and present snapshot data.
• First, we now offer snapshots on most communities in the county. We have data for 40 different school districts. Check them all out on the WCA website.
• Also, our age group coverage now goes past the age of 19 up to 24. Why? Because our children need support past the age of eighteen. Kids don’t immediately become adults the instant they turn eighteen. I would argue that this is true especially when those 18-year-olds come from stable families. (There’s a reason why children can still be under their parents’ insurance until age 26.)
With a few caveats…
In an ideal world, all the data would be utterly consistent and current, but this is not an ideal world. Instead, we are doing the best we can with the data we have, bearing in mind that we don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Please take note that:
• Some data sources don’t synch, so we are not able to present age breakouts that precisely match some of our current projects. For example, this fall WCA and some of our partners are focused on the youngest ages of 0 to 3. However, portions of the available demographic data are categorized as “children under 5”. This is true for information such as early education enrollment and statistics on prenatal care.
• The available data should be far more current. You will see that, for some snapshot categories, the most recent data is for 2013. This is frustrating. We can access yesterday’s Instagram post from a Kardashian but information on our children will be months old. (Now, we’re not saying we DO access Kardashian posts, only that it’s possible.) This is simply not acceptable, and we at WCA will keep raising this issue with the powers that be.
But despite the challenges, we hope these snapshots are useful to you as you assess what is happening in your school district and neighborhood. The data gives us the clues we need to find out just how we can improve our communities, so we may provide the nurturing and supportive environments our children and youth need to be their very best.
And if you are interested in giving us some feedback, let us know what you think and how you use this information. Many thanks for your interest.