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Over 1.5 Million California Kids Are Suffering Traumatic Events

New Report Card Says State Must Do More to Address Children’s Needs


Oakland, CA—Today Children Now released its 2016 California Children’s Report Card, which shows that the state is not doing enough to promote healing for the more than one million kids in our state who are experiencing  trauma in their lives. Issues like abuse, neglect and witnessing violence at home can have serious long-term consequences for children, including health problems like diabetes and mental health challenges such as depression. In the area of childhood trauma the state received a Report Card grade of “D-“, the report’s lowest grade and a strong indication that much more should be done to protect kids from trauma’s effects and build their resilience. 

The Report Card provides a thorough assessment of the current status of California kids, to help ensure state leaders make informed policy decisions and keep kids our top priority. It assigns a letter grade to each of 31 areas key to children’s well-being, including early learning, health and K-12 education.

Children Now President Ted Lempert said the state’s low score in childhood trauma is troubling.

“Children experiencing traumatic events can have difficulty functioning in all areas of their lives,” he said. “Trauma can impede emotional well-being, impact school performance and set kids up for a lifetime of health problems. California must do more to assess children for trauma and find them the help they need to heal.”

California kids fared better in other areas including placement stability for foster kids (C), preschool (B-) and health insurance (A-). In areas where lawmakers have focused long-term attention and state resources—such as expanding health insurance, including increasing Medi-Cal funding to cover undocumented kids—children saw significant benefits. In areas that have not received the same attention, resources and reforms, like trauma, oral health (D+) and teacher training and evaluation (D), the state’s kids are getting shortchanged.

State investments in critical areas like trauma will save money in the long term, Lempert said.

“Kids with traumatic childhoods are more likely to become adults who need extra resources in everything from mental health, to employment, to criminal justice involvement. Providing kids with trauma assessment and support isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do economically.”

Related Links: View and download the full California Children’s Report Card here.

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