Integrating Racial/Ethnic Equity Into Policy Assessments to Improve Child Health

There are several ways to incorporate equity assessments into federal performance goals, data collection, and program evaluation.

The U.S. child population is rapidly becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, yet there are persistent racial/ethnic gaps in child health. Improving and expanding policies to reduce these gaps is increasingly a mandate of government agencies. Identifying effective policies requires a rigorous approach, yet there is a lack of information about which policies improve equity.

This article introduces the Policy Equity Assessment, a framework that combines policy assessment and rigorous equity methods to both synthesize existing research and identify and conduct new analyses of policies’ ability to reduce racial/ethnic
inequities. The researchers applied the Policy Equity Assessment to three policies:  (1) Head Start, (2) the Family and Medical Leave Act, and (3) a federal housing assistance program known as Section 8.

Their results show racial/ethnic inequities in access to benefits and substantial data and evidence gaps regarding the impact of policies in improving racial/ethnic equity. These results should motivate policymakers to strengthen equity analysis.