By Suzanne Potter, California News Service
January 30, 2023 (Sacramento) -- Many of California's 13.5 million children and teens have not bounced back after the pandemic, especially children of color, according to the just-released 2023 California County Scorecard of Children's Well-Being. The report showcases data from all 58 counties and shows wide disparities in indicators of health, education and more.
Kelly Hardy, senior managing director of health and research at Children Now, said anti-poverty measures during COVID helped a lot, but they were just temporary.
"Thirty-eight percent are in families making less than two times the poverty level, which is around $60,000 a year for a family of four," she said, "so, that's a pretty low bar."
The data show the state has more than 170,000 homeless students, and that the shortage of state-funded child care continues. The report found that in 2017, 2019 and 2021, only one in four working families had access to a space in a licensed child-care facility.
Susannah Kniffen, Children Now's senior managing director of child welfare and government relations, said kids in foster care had alarmingly low scores for access to healthcare and academic achievement.
"These kids are facing distinct challenges that other students aren't," she said, "and they need a very targeted approach to their education if we're ever going to change the numbers, which are fairly dismal."
Vince Stewart, vice president for policy and programs at Children Now, said in terms of education, kids appear to be losing ground as they get older.
"Forty-two percent of third graders met or exceeded standards and reading, 31% of fifth graders met or exceeded standards in science, in 29% of eighth graders met or exceeded standards in math," he said. "And then 11th graders, it's only 27% who are deemed ready for college-level math."
The report does show some bright spots. California children have high rates of health insurance and a high proportion of babies are born at normal birth weight.