Children Now Insider: How are our kids doing?

Children Now launches mobile Scorecard

Children Now® Insider: Stories, News, And Insights On Children’s Advocacy

For more information on our blog, contact Adrienne Bell at abell@childrennow.org

In the past four months, I’ve traveled to counties across the state – from Mendocino to Placer to San Bernardino – and met with people from various organizations or agencies, like County Offices of Education and First 5s, to learn about the issues affecting kids in their communities.

The issues we’ve discussed range from securing health coverage for all kids, regardless of immigration status, to how chronic absence rates serve as a bellwether measure, to the promise of universal preschool, to the effects of growing up within the child welfare system. What strikes me is how valuable data is to these conversations, but how limited research capacity and resources are for so many community-based groups. Data can highlight where the weak and bright spots are for kids and help us work together to create positive outcomes, starting on a local level, with the ultimate goal of affecting statewide change.

That’s why we created the 2018-19 California County Scorecard of Children’s Well-Being.

The Scorecard has been a premier research product of Children Now for more than two decades. It measures 30 key indicators in health, education, child welfare and early childhood, for all of California’s 58 counties, tracked across time, and by race and ethnicity. While it has taken many iterations – first a printed booklet, then an online resource, and now an interactive tool – the goal of the Scorecard has always been the same. The tool is for local organizations and agencies, parents, caregivers, teachers, or others invested in children’s well-being to get a snapshot of how their children are faring, and use that information to advocate for supports and services that improve the lives of their children.

Little known fact: there are Scorecard diehards across the state who start emailing me in the spring to find out when the next edition will be released. We spend months developing this tool and hearing how it’s been put to use in legislative briefings and community meetings is really gratifying.

An example that comes to mind is from a county that used the Scorecard release as an opportunity to bring together education, business, and community leaders to discuss how to tackle lowering high chronic absence rates of K-12 students. Chronic absence, which is defined as missing ten percent or more of the school year, is a new indicator in this year’s edition. Attendance is a key predictor of students’ future academic performance and students who are chronically absent are more likely to fall behind and drop out of school than their peers. The causes of chronic absence are often other structural barriers for students, especially students of color and students in low-income families, such as unstable housing, lack of transportation, and limited access to medical, dental, and mental health care. It is an issue that can be solved when grounded by data and with a multi-sector approach. We look forward to learning more from this county as they move forward. It is stories like these that motivate me to continue to help other communities with their data needs.

We launched the 2018-19 edition of the Scorecard in September. In this edition, we’ve added a new interactive mapping feature – the data geek in me is thrilled! – which allows users to easily compare their data to other counties, regions, and the state. We are looking forward to building on it as we start to include more trend analysis.

I am excited to announce that this week, for the first time ever, we’ve launched a mobile version of the Scorecard, with all of the functionality of the desktop version, to make accessing county-specific data a breeze! Accessibility is key here – because the Scorecard was designed to provide a snapshot of data that anyone can use and understand. The mobile version will help users grab data on the fly or quickly make comparisons on the mapping tool that will aid in their discussions about critical children’s issues.

We’d love to hear about how you’re using the Scorecard and county-specific data in your community! Send us your stories, as well as any feedback you have about the tool, to research@childrennow.org.

To see how kids in your county are doing, visit www.scorecard.childrennow.org on your mobile device.

Kelly Hardy directs and supervises the organization’s research and health policy areas.

Ms. Hardy has worked in health policy at the federal, state and county levels, focusing on Medicaid and access to care. In Washington, D.C., she advocated for reproductive rights and on behalf of breast cancer organizations as a member of government relations firm Bass and Howes, Inc. In Sacramento, Ms. Hardy worked directly with the California Health and Human Services Agency’s Assistant Secretary on Medi-Cal; she also analyzed state health policies and budgets for the government relations firm Hyde, Miller, Owen & Trost. Afterwards, she oversaw the Medi-Cal, CalWORKS, and food stamp budgets for the Alameda County Social Services Agency.

Ms. Hardy earned her MPP and MPH at University of California, Berkeley and a BA in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She serves on the Family Voices of California advisory committee

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