California ranks 40th among the 50 states in children’s overall well-being, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 25th edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book, released today in partnership with Children Now, a children’s health and education research, policy, and advocacy organization based in Oakland.
The Data Book ranks each state and the District of Columbia on 16 key indicators across four fundamental domains: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health and Family and Community.
In measures of children’s well-being, California highest ranking is Health (26th) and lowest is Economic Well-Being (48th).
“Knowing our vibrant and diverse communities, our incredible intellectual and financial resources and our reputation for leadership and innovation, there is no excuse for California to be ranked 40th in children’s well-being,” Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, said in an emailed statement. “We simply haven’t invested enough in our children in spite of much greater capacity to do so.”
California ranks 11th among the states in per capita state and local revenue yet much lower, 36th, in per pupil education spending. The state also ranks toward the bottom in Education, 39th.
“The good news is the State is already taking steps to improve,” said Lempert, citing the enactment last year of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and this year’s budget investment in public education. “These actions were critical, given that as of 2012, more than half a million children ages three and four (53 percent) were not attending preschool and 18 percent of high school students did not graduate on time.”
The 2014 Data Book highlights a bright spot for California, in a 63 percent decline in teen birth rate. In 1990, California’s teen birth rate was 71 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19; as of 2012 the birth rate had dropped to 26 per 1,000.
With a health ranking of 26th among the states, California has seen some gains in children’s health. In 1990, roughly 1 in 6 California children (17 percent) was uninsured. By the most recent estimates, approximately 1 in 12 children (8 percent) live without health insurance.
The complete report is available here.