2020: A Year in Review

We protected supports and services for kids this year, but more work remains in 2021

By Adrienne Bell

December 14, 2020

To say that 2020 has been a trying year would be an understatement. Californians faced concurrent, extraordinary events – an unprecedented global pandemic, a major economic collapse, the largest national racial justice movement in decades, historic wildfires, and a great unexpected loss of life.

Unfortunately, kids, especially kids of color, have had to disproportionately bear the burden of these traumatic events – from dealing with the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, to struggling with social isolation as they’re separated from their friends and caring adults at school. Too many kids aren’t getting access to the quality education they are entitled to, and many others are missing out on developing important relationships with caregivers in the early years, doctor’s visits, and screenings and services that are critical to their healthy development.

Children Now, with a range of diverse partners, has advocated tirelessly for children this year. But to create the lasting change that is needed to close the disparities in children’s health, education, and well-being that have only widened as a result of this pandemic, there is so much more that needs to be done.

Policy Highlights

Children Now safeguarded critical supports and services for kids this year; below are a few of the highlights:

Protected Education Funding: Children Now organized this Children’s Movement’s letter from over 1,000 diverse organizations calling on the Governor and Legislature to prioritize kids in the state budget, which helped to block proposed cuts to education.

Defeated Proposed Cuts to Child Care and Preschool: Leveraging the letter from The Children’s Movement mentioned above, Children Now and our partners successfully stabilized child care funding in the state budget, including preventing an across-the-board 10% reimbursement rate cut for preschool and child care providers proposed by the Governor that would have decimated the state’s child care sector.

Protected Children’s Health Programs: Children Now helped defeat the Governor’s proposal to shift Proposition 56 dollars earmarked for payments to providers for developmental screenings, trauma screenings and trainings, well-child check-ups and dental services for kids into a general category of Medi-Cal that would not have specifically supported health care for kids.

Protected the Family Urgent Response System (FURS): After the May Revise proposal to eliminate FURS, the 24/7 statewide hotline and county mobile response system established last year through our advocacy, Children Now led a successful advocacy effort to save the program, which is critical to ensuring youth in foster care and caregivers can access immediate, trauma-informed supports during the pandemic and beyond.

Increased Child Welfare Supports During COVID-19: Children Now and our partners secured a number of state budget investments to address the substantial risk facing California’s kids in foster care in the midst of COVID-19, including: higher monthly reimbursement rates for foster families impacted by COVID-19, increased access to technology to connect children and youth to education and other supports, and temporarily expanded eligibility for extended foster care to allow young people turning 21 to continue to participate in the program through next June.

Reports and Policy Briefs

Children Now released a variety of infographics, research products and/or policy briefs in 2020, including:

A Behavioral Health Policy Agenda for California’s Kids – this brief highlights the actions that California can take to support the well-being of children and youth so that they can develop strong social-emotional skills, learn coping mechanisms for when problems arise and build healthy minds that will lead them on a bright path forward.

Children’s Medi-Cal Managed Care in California Counties – this landscape analysis confirms previous studies showing that kids in California are not getting the medically necessary care they need in Medi-Cal.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on California Children’s Well-Being – this infographic highlights how the pandemic is affecting children and their families, and the steps the State can take to address many of these key issues.

The 2020 California Children’s Report Card – this report grades the state on its ability to support better outcomes for kids, from prenatal to age 26. Each grade is based on the state’s progress (or lack thereof) on passing and implementing state-level policies and making investments in the supports and services needed for all kids to reach their full potential.

To read these and others, please visit the Reports page on our website.

The Children’s Movement of California

This year, more than 570 new members joined The Children’s Movement, a network of direct service, business, parent, student, civil rights, faith, and community groups across California who care about kids, and we’re ending 2020 with a total of more than 4,100 Pro-Kid organizations!

If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Children’s Movement – there is no cost to participate – we encourage you to learn more and sign up here!


We’ll be closing our offices from Dec. 23 – Jan. 3 to relax and recharge. As we approach 2021, we look ahead with hope and promise. A new year brings with it new possibilities, and the opportunity to truly prioritize kids in California.

Editor’s note: Thank you for following along in 2020! If you’d like to support our work, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Children Now – you can do so here. We wish you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season!