Chicago Parent Survey Highlights Inequities in Access to Community Resources

June 27, 2023

Inequities in access to community resources, such as healthcare clinics, libraries and recreation programs, were found in a recent Voices of Child Health in Chicago Parent Panel Survey from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Over 1,000 parents from all 77 community areas in the city were asked about the availability of neighborhood resources and services to help their families.

While overall, parents reported that healthcare clinics were the most available community resource, Black parents reported less access to healthcare clinics (73%) compared to White parents (86%). Also, non-White families, families with lower household incomes and families with lower parental education reported less access to mental health services for youth and adults. 

Similarly, only 71% of Latinx/Hispanic parents and 68% of Black parents reported access to a library, compared to 82% of White parents and 79% of Asian/Other-race parents.

Availability of recreation programs (such as park district programs) also varied by parent demographics, with White parents reporting more access than parents of other races/ethnicities (75% vs. 51%-56%) and parents with higher household income reporting more access than parents with lower household income (73% vs. 48%-53%).

“Availability of community resources can impact the health of an entire family, which is why it is so important to focus efforts on eliminating inequities in access to these services,” said Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Lurie Children’s, Executive Vice President and Chief Community Health Transformation Officer at the Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities at Lurie Children’s, and Chair of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Parents also were asked how they prefer to learn about services and resources to support their family’s wellbeing. These preferences also reflected demographic differences. While overall, two in three parents reported wanting to learn about services and resources over the internet, parents with lower incomes and less education were less likely to prefer the internet as a source for this type of information. 

Black parents were more likely than parents of other races/ethnicities to report preferences for learning about services and resources at community events (40% vs. 25%-34%) and through community-based organizations compared to other groups (51% vs 33%-45%). Preferences also differed by city region: 53% of parents from the South region and 41% from the West region preferred to learn about resources at community events compared with 23% from the North region and 25% from the Central region.

“Understanding parent preferences for receiving information about services and resources may help providers and community organizations better publicize available offerings to meet families’ needs,” said Dr. Davis.

Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is a nonprofit organization committed to providing access to exceptional care for every child. It is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. Lurie Children’s is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.