A report released by the 2007 California County Data Book published data illuminating the disparities in children’s well-being from county to county, differences that are often masked by statewide figures.
The book, a public resource which provides comprehensive county-level data on children’s health, education and family economic status, answers such questions as how the 763,000 California children currently without health insurance are geographically distributed.
“This kind of data is invaluable to communities in our state,” said Olson Huff., M.D., of Mission Healthcare Foundation and Senior Fellow of Child Health with Action for Children. “Because the County Data Cards zero in on each county, the data go beyond showing a snapshot of the state by providing community leaders with targeted county-specific information needed to make positive decisions to improve the lives of children in their respective communities.”
The County Data Book provides information for policy-makers, community organizations and advocates who need data and statistics to monitor changes in children’s lives objectively, to investigate disparities in opportunities for children and to distribute resources efficiently and effectively.
Los Angeles is home to 2,727,886 children, ages 0-17 years, which is 28 percent of California’s child population. Los Angeles county children ranked fourth out of 58 in the percentage of mothers with early prenatal care, fifth in the percentage of English learners and 11th in the percentage of high school students eligible to attend one of California’s public universities.
In Northern California, while the percentage of children without health insurance is seven percent statewide, percentages by county are as high as 17 percent in Shasta County.
Preschool enrollment rates range from 74 percent in Marin County to 23 percent in Tulare County; statewide it is 42 percent.
Children who visited a dentist in the past year ranges from 88 percent in San Benito and San Francisco counties to 61 percent in Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Inyo, Mariposa, Mono and Tuolumne counties; 80 percent of all California children did so.
Statewide, 43 percent of children score proficient or above on the California Standards Test for English; county-by-county the percentages range from 68 percent in Marin County to 32 percent in Tulare County.
Statewide, 52 percent of children score proficient or above on the California Standards Test for Math; county-by-county the percentages range from 72 percent in Marin County to 42 percent in Mendocino County.
“Even in the best performing counties, too many kids aren’t receiving the basic developmental supports of health insurance and early education they need to reach their potential,” said Ted Lempert, Children Now’s president. “Our hope is that the local relevance of these data will engage more people in addressing children’s issues and boil up to the state-level policy changes that are needed.”
Nevada County, the Northern Sierra region of the state, is home to 19,730 children, ages 0-17 years, which is less than one percent of California’s child population. Compared to other counties in the state, Nevada County ranks 32nd out of 58 in the percentage of children with health insurance, 3rd in the percentage of elementary school students meeting state targets in English and language arts, seventh in the percentage of elementary school students meeting state targets in math and 22nd in the percentage of children in low-income households.
“Every child deserves a healthy start in life and the interconnections between health, early child care and success in school cannot be overstated,” said Leah Devlin, State Health Director. This data is a call to action for every adult who cares about the future of children, their families and communities across the state. “These report cards are important because the best policies are based on solid data. As a pediatrician and a lifelong advocate for children, I not only find the depth of this report very helpful in my daily work at the community level, but also in my work to improve the lives of children and families through policy at the county and state level.”