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Status of California’s Kids Critical to Restoring Economic Stability in State, According to New Children Now Report Card

Jan 04, 2010

OAKLAND, CA – Significant changes to children’s health care and education policies are required for California to regain its financial footing and safeguard its future economic competitiveness. These are among the findings of a new study released today from Children Now, a leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to assuring all children have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

The 2010 California Report Card: Setting the Agenda for Children identifies many critical issues affecting children’s well-being and threatening to compromise public health and the economy. The report assigns letter grades to individual issues, such as a “C” in early learning and development, a “D” in K-12 education, and a “D+” in health coverage. The only bright spot, a “B+” in afterschool programs, reflects the state’s national leadership in providing extended learning opportunities. Overall, this is the worst grade point average the state has received in the 20 year history of Children Now’s Report Card.

“Clearly nothing makes more sense for California, financially and morally, than prioritizing investments in children,” said Ted Lempert, Children Now’s president. “As push comes to shove over the state budget in 2010, children have to come first, or California’s leadership has failed us all, big time.”

The report presents the most current data available on the status of California’s children, who represent 26 percent of all Californians and 13 percent of the nation’s kids:

  • More than one million California children, ages 0-18, don’t have health insurance.
  • For more than 25 years, California has spent less per student on education than the national average.
  • 49 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in economically-disadvantaged families are in center-based preschool programs, compared to 69% of those in more affluent families.
  • Only 45 percent of third-graders meet California’s standards for grade-level reading.
  • Nearly 20 percent of high school students drop out before graduation.

“Fixing potholes can wait a year, but children’s development doesn’t recover a year that’s lost,” said Lempert. “Every dollar we cut from children’s education and health programs costs us all ten-fold.” He added, “The state’s economy and tax revenue base has to have a well-educated workforce to support it. The warning signs for a much larger, sustained collapse due to inadequate investment in children are clearly visible.”

The 2010 California Report Card: Setting the Agenda for Children is available for free online at childrennow.org/reportcard.

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