Poor Kindergarten Readiness Scores Are Linked to Substandard Housing and Neighborhood Conditions

Poor Kindergarten Readiness Scores Are Linked to Substandard Housing and Neighborhood Conditions
Claudia J. Coulton, Francisca Richter, Seok-Joo Kim, Robert Fischer, Youngman Cho
Children and Youth Services Review
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Lower kindergarten readiness scores are associated with “cumulative exposure to poor-quality housing and disadvantaged neighborhoods,” according to research in the Children and Youth Services Review. Researchers collected longitudinal data on 13,672 children who entered kindergarten in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District from 2007 to 2010 using two integrated data systems. The data included information about children’s address histories from birth; family characteristics, including parents’ education levels and income; birth statistics; and literacy scores on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. With the students’ housing histories, the authors examined the quality of homes lived in, assess the conditions of the neighborhoods in which the houses were located, and determine whether a housing market distress event occurred, such as foreclosure. This analysis allowed the authors to isolate the associations between housing and neighborhood conditions and kindergarten readiness. An accompanying research brief puts the study’s findings in a policy context, recommending ways to improve the environments in which children live to increase kindergarten readiness.

Key findings:

  • Living in poor-quality housing and disadvantaged neighborhoods is associated with lower kindergarten readiness scores.
  • Neighboring units in market distress up to 1,500 feet away are linked with lower scores on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.
  • Children living in homes that were in foreclosure, in tax delinquency, or owned by a speculator were more likely to receive worse kindergarten readiness scores than children in stable housing.
  • Poor-quality housing has a positive relationship with incidences of child abuse and neglect, which have a strong association with poor kindergarten readiness scores.