National, state, and local research, policy and advocacy to improve the lives of kids

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EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL: February 1, 2018, 12:01 PST

Contact: Maria Mejia, 510-763-2444 x108,


Nearly Two-Thirds of California Babies are Born into Low-Income Households

New Report Shows Urgent Need to Invest in Kids, Pre-Natal through Higher Ed

OAKLAND, CA—Today Children Now released its 2018 California Children’s Report Card, which shows California isn’t doing enough to support the healthy development of children. More than 1.5 million infants and toddlers live in California families, of which 62% are born into low-income households. These children are less likely to have access to high-quality health and education services needed to reach their full potential, which ultimately undermines the success of the state’s economic and civic future.

The report calls on the state’s leaders to create public policy change to scale innovative, high-impact programs, and secure resources and reforms to provide equitable opportunities from the very start of a child’s life through young adulthood. It grades the state on its current ability to support better outcomes for children on 25 key education, health and child welfare areas, from pre-natal to age 26, from our early childhood to our higher education systems.

Children Now President Ted Lempert said the low grades for supports for California’s babies, including a D+ for Infant and Toddler Care, a D for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, a C- for Developmental Screening, and a D+ for Home Visiting, are especially alarming.

“The state is failing our youngest kids, allocating far too few resources to the critical and formative early years. High-quality services are out of reach for many struggling families. The average cost of child care exceeds the cost of tuition at UC, while only 3 percent of California families have access to home visiting programs, and fewer than one in four babies receive pediatrician-recommended developmental screenings,” Lempert said. “Yet these early services are critical for kids’ overall success. Disparities in achievement and opportunity open early in children’s lives and, once present, are more difficult to resolve and more likely to persist throughout childhood and adulthood.”

The state was granted an A in only one area – Health Insurance. Approximately 97 percent of children are now covered by health insurance in California.

“We are proud that California has committed to insuring every child in the state, and will continue to fight against threats to undercut that commitment,” Lempert said. “How far we’ve come in children’s health insurance demonstrates that smart public policies can make a dramatic difference.”

“In a relatively high-tax state known for innovation, it is unacceptable that we are failing to be a high investment state when it comes to early childhood, K-12, higher education and other needed supports for kids,” concluded Lempert. “California needs to re-set its priorities and put kids – and our collective future – first.”

The California Children’s Report Card is available at