University of Illinois Urbana‑Champaign

Social and Economic Conditions: Establishing Community Context for Early Childhood Decision Making

Resources for Understanding Local Economic and Social Conditions

Young child with dark skin smiling at camera while playing on a jungle gym with other children

County and neighborhood-level data on the economic and social conditions experienced by Illinois young children and their families can help establish context and identify areas of need for early childhood decision makers. This is why IECAM offers a wide variety of social and economic data and visualizations in our curated data section. However, there are additional publicly available tools that can offer an expanded understanding of the local conditions in which young children and their families live. Here are just a few. Note that some of these resources may be in the process of being updated. 

  • The CDC/ATSDR Social Vulnerability Index uses 15 U.S. census variables to help local officials identify communities that may need support before, during, or after disasters.
  • Alice in Focus Series Research Center data dashboards and maps offer detailed view of children growing up in financial hardship (by PUMA region in Illinois).
  • Rural Capacity Index Map and Neighborhoods at Risk Map from Headwaters Economics help identify communities where investments in staffing and expertise are needed to compete for federal funding.   
  • The Community Resilience Estimates (CRE) tool from the U.S. Census Bureau provides an easily understood metric for how at-risk every neighborhood in the United States is to the impacts of disasters, including COVID-19.
  • The America Counts Illinois State Profile from the U.S. Census Bureau provides visualizations of key demographic trends from the 2020 Census by Illinois county.
  • The Opportunity Atlas from Harvard University, Brown University, and the U.S. Census Bureau shows the neighborhoods in America that offer children the best chance of rising out of poverty. 
  • Child Opportunity Index from Brandeis University measures and maps the quality of resources and conditions that matter for children to develop in a healthy way in the neighborhoods where they live.
  • The Neighborhood Atlas/Area Deprivation Index from the Center for Health Disparities Research at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health maps the rankings of neighborhoods (census block groups) by socioeconomic disadvantage. 
  • The Chicago Health Atlas, from the Chicago Department of Public Health, PHAME Center at UIC, and Metopio offers users a chance to review, explore, and compare health-related data over time and across communities.
  • The City of Chicago's open data portal lets you find city data, lets you find facts about your neighborhood, lets you create maps and graphs about the city, and lets you freely download the data for your own analysis.
  • Work Area Profile Analysis from the U.S. Census Bureau OnTheMap tool.
  • Map of select topics by county: What Can You Learn About Counties From the American Community Survey (2016-2020)?
  • The PreK-12 Youth Experiencing Homelessness in Illinois during the 2019-2022 School Years page from the Illinois Workforce and Education Research Collaborative /Discovery Partners Institute website provides interactive maps for preK-grade 12 youth experiencing homelessness by Illinois county (rural/urban classification and change in rates/percent over time).
  • The EDGE School Neighborhood Poverty Estimate from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) relies on household economic data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) and public school locations developed by NCES to estimate the income-to-poverty ratio for neighborhoods around school buildings.
  • The ACS-ED District Demographic Dashboard from the National Center for Education Statistics uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to create custom indicators of social, economic, and housing conditions for school-age children and their parents. It also uses spatial data collected by NCES and the Census Bureau to create geographic locale indicators, school point locations, school district boundaries, and other types of data to support spatial analysis. 
  • The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) Community Data Snapshots summarize demographic, housing, employment, transportation, land use, revenue, and water data in northeastern Illinois. Each year, CMAP updates these snapshots for the region’s seven counties (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will), 284 communities, and 77 Chicago neighborhoods.
  • The Illinois Risk and Reach Report from Erikson Institute, Voices for Illinois Children, and IECAM presents county-by-county data on risk factors that undermine optimal child development as well as the reach of publicly funded programs and services that support early childhood well-being.
  • The National Walkability Index (interactive map) from the U.S. EPA provides walkability scores based on a simple formula that ranks selected indicators from the Smart Location Database that have been demonstrated to affect the propensity of walk trips.
  • American Inequality is a publication and database tracking nearly 100 factors that influence opportunity in communities.
  • Interactive maps (StoryMap) from Child Care Aware and the Illinois Public Health Institute showing child care program participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and food insecurity/deserts at the census tract level.
  • Exploring Illinois Children's Well-Being: Interactive Maps from YWCA Metropolitan Chicago that reflect data on children’s wellness in the areas of demographic change, socioeconomics, family and community, education, and health and well-being. 
  • County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, from the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute. 
  • Food Insecurity in Illinois maps (by county/age) from Feeding America
  • The University of Illinois School of Social Work's Children and Family Research Center provides data on child safety, substitute care, legal permanence, stability of permanence, and re-entry into substitute care.
  • Illinois Child Safety and Substitute Care Data Center at the University of Illinois School of Social Work's Children and Family Research Center offers data on child maltreatment and substitute care measures.  
  • The Maternal and Infant Health Mapping (MIHM) Tool from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is an interactive online tool that allows users to create and customize county-level maps on maternal and infant health. 
  • The National Survey of Children's Health from the Child & Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative provides data on multiple, intersecting aspects of children’s lives—including physical and mental health, access to quality health care, and the child’s family, neighborhood, school, and social context. 
  • National Database of Child Care Prices from the U.S. Department of Labor offers childcare price data by childcare provider type, age of children, and county characteristics.
  • FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data) database is created and maintained by the research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and provides economic data time series (such as unemployment rates) from national, international, public, and private sources. Data is presented by country, state, county, and metropolitan areas. 
  • Illinois Report Card is the state's official source for information about public schools across Illinois.
  • Chicago Early Childhood Integrated Data System (CECIDS) CECIDS integrates data across systems and programs to enable the creation of more timely and actionable data insights for Chicago families, program administrators, funders, advocates, and policymakers.

IECAM Resources

Maps and data found on IECAM, such as this chart showing unemployment rates over time, can help decision makers understand local demographic trends and social and economic conditions.