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.
We applied the Policy Equity Assessment to three policies: Head Start, the Family and Medical Leave Act and a federal housing assistance program known as Section 8. Our 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 policy makers to strengthen equity analysis.