Frequently asked questions

Published: 01.21.2020 Updated: 01.18.2023
What can I find in the Datasets section?

The Datasets section of our site contains over 320 socio-economic and policy indicators capturing a wide range of topics. Many indicators are available for 10+ geographic summary levels, from national data down to the neighborhood-level, and cover the past ten years. Whenever possible, indicators were made available by race and ethnicity. Browse our indicator collection.

What is a Policy Equity Assessment (PEA)?

Policy Equity Assessment (PEA) is 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. Learn more about PEAs.

I've heard about the Child Opportunity Index, but I don't fully understand what it is or how it can be used. Where can I learn more? 

Our research team has developed a webinar that provides a detailed overview of the Child Opportunity Index 2.0 (COI). The webinar describes what the COI measures, why it’s valid and how we built it. The webinar also explains what the COI teaches us about racial/ethnic inequities in accessing opportunity, and how those differences influence lifelong health outcomes. Finally, the webinar cites examples of uses of the COI from hospitals, community organizations, local governments and journalists. Watch the webinar here

How was the Child Opportunity Index constructed? What data did you use?

The Child Opportunity Index (COI) 2.0 is based on 29 neighborhood indicators that were collected from public and proprietary sources and combined into a composite index. For details on data sources and construction, please refer to our Technical Document.

How is the COI being used?

The COI has been used for community needs assessments, strategic planning, resource allocation, to highlight local inequity in access to opportunity, and for informing place-based and mobility interventions. You can read about some use cases in our library of Impact Stories.

How can I see what child opportunity in my community looks like?

We have built a map application that allows users to visualize the COI for all neighborhoods in any of the 100 largest metro areas and to see where children live relative to opportunity by race and ethnicity. Explore the app.

Can I get COI data for my own work?

Absolutely! We have made data on the index and its components available for download in the Datasets section of our site. All changes to the data are recorded on the data revisions, updates and errata page.

What's the difference between the Child Opportunity Score and Child Opportunity Levels?

Child Opportunity Scores measure neighborhood opportunity on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 100 (highest). Child Opportunity Levels assign neighborhoods to five ordered levels of opportunity (very low, low, moderate, high, very high). Visit What is child opportunity for a more detailed description.

What is the difference between metro-normed, state-normed and nationally-normed COI data?

Child Opportunity Scores and Levels are relative measures of opportunity. The score or level assigned to a neighborhood depends on the set of neighborhoods to which it is  being compared. To construct nationally-normed Child Opportunity Scores and Levels, we rank all neighborhoods in the U.S. from lowest to highest opportunity and then assign scores and levels based on that ranking. We also publish state- and metro-normed opportunity scores and levels, which are based on ranking all neighborhoods within a given state or metropolitan area. Although these rankings tend to be similar in most places, nationally-, state- and metro-normed scores/levels may differ. For details, please refer to our Technical Document.

How do I choose between metro-normed, state-normed and nationally-normed COI data?

Users who are interested in exploring neighborhood opportunity within  one metro area or state should use the metro-normed or state-normed data respectively. For users who want to make comparisons across metro areas within the same state, we recommend the use of state-normed data. For users who want to draw comparisons across state-boundaries or the entire country, we recommend using nationally-normed data. Please contact us if you have further questions about which data is right for you.

Where can I get COI data for counties, ZIP codes, metro areas, or states?

The COI is a neighborhood-level index, focusing on the environments children experience every day. While we generally recommend the use of census tract level COI estimates whenever possible, we have also published ZIP code level COI estimates for instances in which data at the census tract level are not available. We invite you to read more about the strengths and weaknesses of using ZIP code data to estimate neighborhood opportunity. If you are looking for COI data for geographic summary levels other than census tracts or ZIP codes, please contact us.

How should I cite this work? 2023. Waltham, MA: Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University.