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Availability of early childhood supports varies across counties, leads to disparities in health and education in later childhood
New, interactive data tool on children’s well-being shows health indicators up, while others lag or remain stagnant
OAKLAND, Calif. — While some indicators of children’s well-being have improved statewide, not enough children are receiving the health, education, and safety supports they need to thrive, according to a new report released by Children Now today. The 2018-19 California County Scorecard of Children’s Well-Being shows regional disparities that exist in children’s services and outcomes, with children in the Central Valley and Inland Empire most likely to lack supports they need.
For example, a striking 77 percent of children with parents in the labor force statewide do not have a licensed child care slot available. In many counties in the Central Valley, that percentage increases to 80 percent or more. Consistent and affordable high-quality early care and education promotes healthy brain development in children and enables parents to stay in or re-enter the labor force.
“For our kids and our communities, services like quality child care help reduce inequities in educational, health, and social outcomes,” Children Now President Ted Lempert said. “While it is imperative that we remove the barriers that children in these regions and throughout California face in getting the services they need, the good news is there is a range of strong community groups and members who are working to improve the lives of kids in their regions.”
The Scorecard provides a comprehensive snapshot of how children are faring in each of the 58 counties, over time, and by race and ethnicity. The tool’s indicators cut across four domains of education, child welfare, health, and early childhood. For example, the Scorecard shows the following:
- Education: Due to systemic barriers within the state’s education system, there are significant racial disparities in education outcomes. For example:
- Though high school graduation rates have increased with 83 percent of 12th graders graduating on time in 2017, racial disparities still exist: 73 percent of Black students, 80 percent of Latinx students, 87 percent of White students, and 89 percent of Asian 12th graders graduated on time.
- Thirty-two percent of California students were ready or conditionally ready for college-level math courses. There are significant racial disparities for this indicator: 15 percent of Black students, 20 percent of Latinx students, 45 percent of White students, and 48 percent of Asian students were ready or conditionally ready for college-level math courses.
- Health: The health insurance indicator is up across all counties, thanks to the expansion of comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage to all income-eligible children, regardless of immigration status. In particular, 95 percent of children in California have health insurance. However, to maintain and increase this indicator, the state must continue to keep health access available for our children and remain vigilant against any federal actions that threaten to do away with programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program or harmful immigration policies that threaten children’s access to coverage and care.
- Child Welfare: Data shows that more needs to be done to ensure that all of the children in the child welfare system are in loving, stable homes and have the supports to improve their health and well-being. For example, more than a quarter of adolescents in the child welfare system were not in family-like settings, with Black adolescents at a high of 33 percent.
“We want this tool to serve as a resource to communities to push state and local leaders in improving access to quality supports and services, like access to high quality child care,” Lempert said. “Our policymakers must make investments and policies that that target closing the gaps in racial and regional disparities.”
The 2018-2019 California County Scorecard of Children’s Well-Being is now online at https://www.childrennow.org/reports-research/scorecard/
About Children Now
Children Now is a nonpartisan, multi-issue research, policy development and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children’s health and education in California. The organization also leads The Children’s Movement of California, a network of more than 2,900 direct service, parent, civil rights, faith-based and community groups dedicated to improving children’s well-being. Learn more about us at www.childrennow.org.