Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy

Our Work

ICYFP staff meeting at a table

Neighborhood quality is a critical social determinant of health, and evidence shows that the environments where children live and play are crucial to their development. Neighborhood quality goes beyond poverty to include safe housing, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, parks and playing fields, quality schools, access to healthcare, and a pollution-free environment. Work from the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy provides evidence, guidance and tools for creating healthy environments, improving neighborhood opportunity for children, and achieving health equity.

Disparities in neighborhood opportunity are structured by systems that keep inequity in place. Policies and programs that foster more equitable systems are critical to improving the health and well-being of children and their families. Policymakers, stakeholders, and others can use the Institute’s tools, like the Policy Equity Analysis, to inform and strengthen new and existing policies that support children and families. Our work shows that equitable access to childcare subsidies, income and job protection, affordable housing, and nutrition assistance for all families optimizes children’s development and well-being by cultivating supportive and healthy environments.

ICYFP is home to, a data project that provides rigorous, actionable, equity-focused research on issues that affect child health and well-being. The U.S. child population is becoming increasingly diverse, yet racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequities persist and, in many cases, are widening. This makes a valuable resource for decision makers to develop policy and programs that increase equity at the local, state and national level. includes two flagship data projects and hundreds of standalone indicators:

The Child Opportunity Index (COI) is a composite measure of 29 neighborhood-level indicators related to child well-being across three domains (health, education, and social and economic resources). The COI is available for all 72,000 census tracts in the U.S. and allows users to compare neighborhoods within metros and to compare metros across the nation.

The National Equity Research Database, Boston Edition (NERD Boston) provides the largest single source of socioeconomic indicators for the city of Boston, its census tracts and its 17 neighborhoods. It also includes data for all census tracts, municipalities, and counties in the Boston metro area, the state of Massachusetts, New England and the U.S. as a whole. also includes over 300 indicators on early childhood education and care, income, work and family policy, child poverty and demographics.