The Cradle to Career Alliance unveiled its annual community report card Tuesday at a luncheon.

The group aims to improve student success by helping organizations, schools and families work together to “find solutions that can increase opportunities to well-being for every member in our community.”

This year’s report focused on issues impacting children’s success, like their family’s well-being and opportunities to thrive.

According to the report, the most common factor between these issues is intergenerational poverty, or poverty transmitted from one generation to another.

“We have to get more Missourians in the workforce,” said Mardy Leathers, director of Missouri Division of Workforce Development. “So how are we alleviating and removing these barriers to employment that are out there?”

In the report, the group defined the three main risk factors for educational success and economic mobility: lack of access to affordable housing, transportation and affordable, high quality child care.

The report found that, while an average of 75 to 80% of Boone County families in poverty are employed, they’re less likely to live in a neighborhood with access to affordable child care and public transportation. Four of six communities in the county are child care deserts.

“Where people can afford to live draws geographic boundaries around their access to transportation and child care in ways that reinforce patterns of intergenerational poverty,” the alliance wrote in its report.

“If you were to imagine yourself going in your home, walking in the kitchen and turning on the faucet, only to find out that just a little bit of water is trickling out,” Executive Director Crystal Kroner said. “Perhaps you’ve called a repair person to come in year after year and make the same repairs, because the real issue isn’t just happening within your home — it’s happening upstream.”

The group analyzed 2018 Columbia Public School District elementary school data and found a “strong relationship between poverty, race/ethnicity and the schools children attend.”

Its solution is to create more integrated communities.

“Redrawing district boundaries cannot address the heart of this issue,” the group wrote in its report. “Districts, city planners and developers must work together to intentionally design more integrated housing, balanced with thriving neighborhoods and culturally responsive educational environments.”

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