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25th Edition of KIDS COUNT Data Book Ranks California 40th in Overall Child Well-Being

Oakland, Calif. – California ranks 40th out of the 50 states in children’s overall well-being, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 25th edition of the KIDS COUNT® Data Book, released today in partnership with Children Now, a children’s health and education research, policy, and advocacy organization based in Oakland.

The Data Book ranks each state and the District of Columbia on 16 key indicators across four fundamental domains: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. In measures of children’s well-being, California ranks highest in Health (26th) and lowest in Economic Well-Being (48th).

California’s Ranking in Children’s Well-Being

Overall Rank 40
Economic Well-Being 48
Education 39
Health 26
Family and Community 43

“Knowing our vibrant and diverse communities, our incredible intellectual and financial resources, and our reputation for leadership and innovation, there is no excuse for California to be ranked 40th in children’s well-being,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now. “We simply haven’t invested enough in our children in spite of much greater capacity to do so. For example, California ranks 11th in the nation on per capita state and local revenue, and yet we rank much lower, just 36th in per pupil education spending.”

California ranks in the bottom in the domain of Education (39th) and is near last in measures of children’s Economic Well-Being (48th).

“The good news is the State is already taking steps to improve,” said Lempert, citing the enactment last year of the Local Control Funding Formula, the historic school equity reform, and this year’s budget investment and future commitment for early education. “These actions were critical given that as of 2012, more than half a million children ages three and four (53 percent) were not attending preschool and 18 percent of high school students did not graduate on time.”

“Improving education is a critical goal in and of itself, but it’s also the most effective long-term strategy for combatting poverty,” added Lempert.

The 2014 KIDS COUNT® Data Book also highlights a bright spot for California. Providing a retrospective since its first publication, the Data Book tracks the ways in which California’s policies led to a 63 percent decline in California’s teen birth rate, the largest decline of all of the states. In 1990, California’s teen birth rate was 71 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19; as of 2012 the birth rate had dropped to 26 per 1,000.

With a health ranking of 26 out of 50, California has seen some gains in children’s health. For example, in 1990, roughly 1 in 6 California children (17 percent) were uninsured. According to the Data Book, the most recent estimates indicate that approximately 1 in 12 children (8 percent) live without health insurance.

“California continues to take the lead in expanding health care access and this is reflected in the Data Book,” said Lempert. “When California prioritizes the well-being of children, we can make a difference.”

Summarizing the report overall, Lempert concluded, “As the ninth largest economy in the world, our children deserve better. If California consistently places its children at the top of our policy priorities, in 25 years, the KIDS COUNT® Data Book will rank California first in children’s overall well-being.”

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