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New National, State Scorecard Shows California Children Face Troubling Racial Inequity

Oakland, CA – California’s African American, Latino, and American Indian children lag far behind white and Asian children in access to health and education opportunities, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, based in Baltimore.

The KIDS COUNT® policy report, Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, unveils the new Race for Results index, which compares how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state levels. The report reveals that white students in California are more than three times as likely as African American students to be reading proficient in fourth grade and Asian students are more than five times as likely as African American students to score at or above proficient in 8th grade math. These inequities continue well into adulthood: white young adults (aged 25-29) are nearly twice as likely as African Americans to have completed an associate’s degree or higher and Asians are more than three times as likely as Latinos.

According to Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, the KIDS COUNT® policy report shows California has much to do to ensure that all children, especially children of color, have the opportunities they need to succeed.

“While these results around racial inequities are very unsettling, the good news is that a mountain of research shows state investments in high quality programs for kids can make a difference. In addition to ensuring a more equitable society, they more than pay for themselves in terms of increased earnings and revenues, result in a stronger overall economy and a decrease in other public costs later on,” Lempert said. “To course correct, we have to acknowledge the facts and take the bold steps needed together.”

The KIDS COUNT® findings were calculated by collecting data from all 50 states for 12 indicators that fall within four categories: early childhood, education and early work, family supports, and neighborhood context. The indicators—which measure data such as percentage of babies born at normal birth weight and percentage of 8th graders who scored at or above proficient in math—were chosen by the foundation based on the goal that all children should grow up in economically successful families, live in supportive communities and meet developmental, health, and educational milestones.

Overall, the index shows that at the national level, no one racial group has all children meeting all milestones. Using a scale of one (lowest) to 1,000 (highest), Asian and Pacific Islander children have the highest index score nationally at 776 followed by white children at 704. Scores for Latino (404), American-Indian (387), and African-American (345) children are distressingly lower, and this pattern holds true in nearly every state, including California.

When the data is broken down by racial and ethnic groups in California, it also shows strong disparities in access, opportunity, and equity.

This new data indicates the need for systemic change in the state. To achieve this change, Children Now is organizing all of the businesses, organizations, and individuals across California that recognize the need to make the children the state’s top priority. This effort, called The Children’s Movement of California, includes more than 850 business, education, parent, civil rights, and other organizations, as well as thousands of individuals that support Pro-Kid® policymaking.

“We know there is strong consensus in this state to ensure that all children have an opportunity to succeed, but too often kids lose out in Sacramento,” Lempert said. “The Children’s Movement of California is changing that: we are sending California policymakers a message -you need to put kids first.”

The complete report is available online at

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