The research, policy and advocacy organization Children Now has quantified California’s child well-being in its 2016 California Children’s Report Card.
The report highlighted 31 key areas under the headings of “Education,” “Health” and “Child Welfare,” and covers everything from STEM standards to health insurance to juvenile justice. The scores under the “Child Welfare” headings are lowest on average, ranging from a D (in “Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention” and “Juvenile Justice”) to a C (in “Placement Stability” and “Permanent Connections”).
For the first time, the report card has included a score for “childhood trauma and resilience,” marking a shift in the prominence of trauma as a determinant of well-being. However, California received a score of D- in this category, the lowest on the whole report card. The score appears under the “Health” sub-heading.
According to the report, “18 percent of California children–over one and a half million– have had at least two Adverse Childhood Experiences [ACEs] in their lives.” The report further highlights the detrimental effects of childhood trauma on physical, mental, and emotional health later in life. To combat this, the report promotes a Pro-Kid® Policy Agenda, suggesting building upon “child, caregiver and community strengths to support trauma prevention, healing and resilience, particularly for traditionally underserved populations.”
In his letter of introduction to the report titled “Pro-Kid Means Anti-Poverty,” Children Now president Ted Lempert frames this phenomenon within the lens of today’s national conversation on income inequality.
“What gets lost in these conversations,” he writes, “is the most powerful solution: investing in quality programs for kids. Not only do children suffer disproportionately from poverty, they also hold the key to ending it. Making sure all children have the supports they need to thrive will dramatically lower the poverty rate in the future.”
The entire report can be found here.
The research was sponsored primarily by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It was also supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; California Community Foundation; The California Endowment; the Ford Foundation; Joseph Drown Foundation; Heising-Simons Foundation; the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Hurlbut-Johnson Fund, an advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation; The James Irvine Foundation; Morgan Family Foundation; and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.