University of Illinois Urbana‑Champaign

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

Photo of a modest brick townhouse unit in Northern Illinois

Resources for Understanding Local Economic and Social Conditions

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 also help provide snapshots of the local conditions in which young children and their families live. Here are just a few.

  • 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.
  • 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 by county from the 2020 Census.
  • 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 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.
  • Work Area Profile Analysis from the U.S. Census Bureau's 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 prekindergarten to 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.

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.