African American Children and Families

In This Section

Notes from the Backpack Podcast

Join PTA For Your Child

In Focus: African American Children

  • In 2012, there were more than 10.2 million non-Hispanic black children under age 18 living in the United States—14% of the U.S. child population.[1]

  • Approximately 40% of non-Hispanic black children under age 18 live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level.

  • In 2009–10, 34% of non-Hispanic black high school students were not graduating on time.

Key Strategies for Inclusion

  • Be responsive to family needs. Schedule PTA meetings to accommodate parent schedules, transportation concerns, and child care needs.

  • Publicize school registration and annual enrollment. Almost 600,000 African American children ages 3–4 (52%) did not attend preschool in 2011–2013.

  • Engage parents in children’s educational progress. Encourage communication with school staff and involvement in programs like the PTA Family Reading Experience or Academic Parent-Teacher Teams.

  • Help families make education a priority. Educate families about the value of learning, advantages of staying in school, and opportunities that open with a high school diploma.

  • Increase involvement of African American men. Create opportunities for male engagement and alliances with influential African American men in the local community as role models and mentors for youth.

  • Celebrate African American history. Promote education about figures, events and developments beyond those included in customary popular histories.

  • Create school and community partnerships and forums. Bring together school staff, local agencies and community resources to address the challenges African American children face.

  • Advocate for African American children and families. Share information and promote policies about civil rights, school discipline and respect, children’s health and safety, and special needs assistance.

PTA Resources

  • Marian Wright Edelman, “Every Child in Focus”: Campaign spotlight on African American children, video message

  • Otha E. Thornton: First National PTA African American President, 2011–2013


Other Resources

[1] Statistics are from KIDS COUNT Data Center of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.