When a ZIP code determines a child’s chance: Data mapping reveals that Opportunities for children are not distributed equally

In his address this month to the Birmingham (Ala.) Rotary, Casey Family Programs President and CEO William C. Bell said that what happens to Birmingham’s vulnerable children and families in the next 15 years will be determined by how the public defines “ours” and whether change occurs in the city’s 28 ZIP codes.

“How we define ‘our,’ as in our children, our home, our extended family, our neighbors, our ZIP code, our state, our nation, makes a difference and will dictate how we respond to vulnerable children and families,” Bell said.

“Two questions that will influence the destiny of children are: ‘How are the children?’ and ‘What are we going to do about it?’”

To frame these questions, Bell asked the audience to consider what any particular data point says about a specific child and the likelihood of something happening in a child’s life. Does the neighborhood have a lack of services? Of supermarkets? Of parks?

“What do the data say about a child’s future possibilities?” he asked.

He encouraged the audience to think about what the data tells them and to accept the challenge that what children experience is not distributed equally throughout Birmingham.

“Data will tell you where you’ve been, where you are now and where you have an opportunity to go,” Bell said. He added a ZIP code-specific strategy could target help where the data says it needs to go.

To create the change necessary that will help vulnerable children and families improve their lives, Bell said we must have:

  • The public will to do so
  • Competent leadership
  • Clear plan of action
  • Investment in the front line across sectors

More than 100 leaders and decision makers in business, government, philanthropy and the community throughout Birmingham attended the event.