Childhood Cancer Diagnoses Rise in Northern California Counties

California’s rate of childhood cancer diagnoses has risen by 6% since the 2000-2004 time period, reaching 17.5 per 100,000 in 2008-2012. California’s upward trend in the rates of new cancer diagnoses of children/youth ages 0-19 closely mirrors that of the nation, but in a number of northern California counties, rates have risen precipitously between 2000-2004 and 2008-2012. Though not tested for statistical significance, in Napa and Marin counties, rates rose by 69% and 58%, to reach 22.8 and 21.5 per 100,000, respectively—the highest in the state. In San Mateo, Sacramento, Sonoma, and San Francisco, all counties with incidence rates of about 20 per 100,000, rates rose between 20-39% during the same period.

The state’s childhood cancer diagnosis rate varies by ethnicity: white children have the highest rate (19.2 per 100,000), compared to Native American children, who have the lowest (12.2 per 100,000). When it comes to cancer survival however, white children have the highest five-year survival rate (84%) compared to African American children, who have the lowest survival rate (75%).

Similar to adults, survival disparities for children with cancer may be associated with socioeconomic status, health coverage, early diagnosis, quality of care, and genetic factors.

To ensure that all children afflicted with cancer have the best possible health care, policies should prioritize providing care in the context of a “medical home,” supporting pediatric centers of excellence, supporting quality of life services, and working toward a unified, efficient, and comprehensive payment system for cancer treatment. Currently, families must navigate a complicated web of service systems with confusing payment policies, which can result in delayed or denied services for children and financial hardship for families.


Related Data:

Cancer (summary)


Helpful Links

California Cancer Registry, California Dept. of Public Health

National Cancer Institute: Childhood Cancers, National Institutes of Health

Cancer and the Affordable Care Act, 2015, American Society of Clinical Oncology

Costs of Environmental Health Conditions in California Children, 2015, California Environmental Health Tracking Program

Long-Term Survivors of Childhood Cancers in the United States, 2009, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Mariotto, A. B., et al.


Kidsdata Tip

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Follow kidsdata on Facebook and Twitter to learn more. Cancer is California’s second-leading cause of death for children ages 5-14.

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Nearly 4,000 Foster Children in California Living in Group Homes

Children fare best in families. The same holds true for children in the child welfare system. The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 was meant to ensure that children in the child welfare system grow up in families—cared for in their own homes or the homes of relatives whenever possible, or in new permanent homes if not. (See First Entries into Foster Care in California, by Type of Placement.)

To preserve the well-being of children who enter the system, out-of-home placements must be in the setting that most closely resembles family life. While the vast majority (more than 80%) of foster children in California are living in family-like placements (i.e., in Foster Homes or Foster Family Agency Homes, with Guardians or Kin-Relatives, or in Pre-Adoptive families), between 1998-2014, the proportion of children living in these types of placements did not grow; rather, it saw a slight decline.

That means that each year, there remains a substantial number of foster children living in non-family placements, such as shelters, group homes, and other congregate or temporary placements. In 2014, there were nearly 4,000 foster children living in group homes, one of the least optimal placement options.

The U.S. foster care system aims to provide temporary living arrangements for children while attempting to safely reunite children with parents, or to find other permanent homes. In reality, many foster children spend years in the system, and move between multiple homes. Children age 6-20, as well as those with disabilities or illnesses, and those of African American and American Indian descent, comprise a disproportionate number of youth in the foster care system (see links below). Children in the system face higher risks of physical and mental health problems as well as academic barriers.

To provide all children with safe, permanent homes, policymakers can ensure that prevention services, mental health resources and educational support are available to foster children, their biological parents, and their foster parents. Efforts should also be made to recruit and support foster families who are kin to the children in their care, as well as non-kin families who are well-suited to provide homes to these children in need.


Related Data:

Foster Care (summary)


Helpful Links

Every Kid Needs a Family: Giving Children in the Child Welfare System the Best Chance for Success, 2015, Annie E. Casey Foundation

Children and Family Services Division, California Dept. of Social Services

At Greater Risk: California Foster Youth and the Path from High School to College, 2013, Stuart Foundation, Frerer, K., et al.

From Foster Home to Homeless: Strategies to Prevent Homelessness for Youth Transitioning from Foster Care, 2014, Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative

Immigration and Child Welfare, 2015, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Child Welfare Information Gateway

Strategies to Reduce Racially Disparate Outcomes in Child Welfare, 2015, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare, Miller, O., & Esenstad, A.


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Not All Kids Are Going Back to School

Of the California students who entered high school in 2010, 12 percent, or one in every eight students, dropped out before graduation, according to the most recent data available on

Twelve percent is high, but dropout rates among students from some racial/ethnic backgrounds are even higher. Rates among African American and American Indian students are nearly double the state average—at about 20 percent, or one in five students, according to 2014 data. Latino and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students, as well as English Learners, youth in foster care, and special education students, also have high rates of non-completion.

Research shows that students who drop out of high school are more likely to struggle with employment, live in poverty, have poor health, and engage in criminal activity than those with higher education levels. Society also faces associated costs in terms of increased spending on public assistance and lower tax revenues. In California, students dropping out of high school costs the state an estimated $46 billion annually.

Students don’t finish high school for a variety of reasons. Risk factors include behavioral problems, suspension, and course failure. Underlying causes for these factors may be related to chronic health or mental health conditions, poverty, and other issues. Children at risk of poor educational outcomes can be identified early and supported to stay engaged in school. School-based health services can address student health issues and promote social and emotional skills.

Policymakers also can ensure effective implementation of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Signed into law in 2013, LCFF moved decision-making power over K-12 spending from the state to the school districts. LCFF allocates additional funding to districts serving students with increased educational needs, such as low-income, English Learner and foster youth students.

Researchers also recommend avoiding a “zero tolerance” school discipline approach, and instead suggest implementing discipline policies that are non-punitive, transparent, fair, consistent, and aim to keep students in school when possible.


Related Data:

Helpful Links

California Dropout Research Project, UC Santa Barbara, Gervitz Graduate School of Education

Everyone Graduates Center, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education

Back to School: Exploring Promising Practices for Re-engaging Young People in Secondary Education, 2014, Center for Promise at America’s Promise Alliance

Black Lives Matter: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males, 2015, Schott Foundation for Public Education

Don’t Call Them Dropouts: Understanding the Experiences of Young People Who Leave High School Before Graduation, 2014, America’s Promise Alliance and the Center for Promise at Tufts University

In School + On Track: Attorney General’s 2014 Report on California’s Elementary School Truancy & Absenteeism Crisis, 2014, California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General

Transitions from High School to College, 2013, The Future of Children, Venezia, A., & Jaeger, L.

Building a Grad Nation: Civic Marshall Plan State Indices and Annual Updates, 2015,, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education


Kidsdata Tip

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Archived Webinar: Vaccination and Vaccine-Preventable Childhood Diseases: Data and Trends

The recording of our July 8 webinar on vaccine-preventable childhood diseases, with a special focus on California data, is now available.

California has 39% of the nation’s whooping cough cases. Vaccines are one of the simplest, most cost-effective tools to improve public health. This webinar explored trends in vaccination and vaccine-preventable childhood diseases and the policy implications of these trends.

Regan Foust, Senior Manager for Data and Research at the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, highlights trends for the U.S. and California and gives an overview of Beth Jarosz, research associate at the Population Reference Bureau, and Reshma Naik, senior policy analyst at the Population Reference Bureau, present trends in vaccination coverage and vaccine-preventable childhood diseases for major world regions.

Questions? Email us at To sign up for announcements of upcoming webinars, data alerts and other news from, click here.



California Home to 39 Percent of Nation’s Whooping Cough Cases

National Immunization Awareness Month: Data and Resources from

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California Home to 39 Percent of Nation’s Whooping Cough Cases

This guest post was written by Beth Jarosz, Research Associate, Population Reference Bureau.

Don’t miss our July 8 webinar, Vaccination and Vaccine-Preventable Childhood Diseases: Data and Trends. Register today!

Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening complications. The risk is highest for infants and young children. Half of infants who get pertussis are hospitalized. For every 100 infants hospitalized for pertussis, one to two will die.

In June 2014, the California Department of Public Health announced that California was experiencing a pertussis epidemic. By the end of 2014, there were more than 11,000 reported cases of pertussis in the state.

For nearly fifty years, the number of pertussis cases in the United States remained steady: about 10,000 cases every year. During the last decade however, the number has steadily grown. In 2012, the outbreak peaked at 48,000 cases. Some say the rise can be attributed to improved diagnostic techniques, lower vaccination rates, or possibly, a less-effective vaccine that was introduced in 1991.

By 2014, the national number had dropped to 28,000 cases, though California, with 11,000 cases, was home to 39 percent of this figure—a vastly disproportionate share considering California’s population represents only 12 percent of the total U.S. population. Pertussis follows a predictable three-year cycle but the timing of those cycles doesn’t necessarily match up for California and the United States. Even accounting for this mismatch, California comprised a disproportionate share. Between 2006 and 2014, California accounted for about 12 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for an average of 15 percent of pertussis cases.

On, data on pertussis and other vaccine-preventable diseases can be found for each county in California, the state, and for the nation as a whole. The data are available through a partnership between the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and, a program of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.

Vaccines are one of the simplest, most cost-effective tools to improve public health. Vaccine-preventable diseases lead to illness, disfigurement, and disability. Globally, vaccine-preventable diseases remain a substantial cause of death, particularly for young children. Vaccines not only protect individuals, but with high rates of coverage, can also provide “herd” immunity: when many children within a community are immunized, infectious diseases are less likely to spread to those who cannot be immunized, for example, very young infants, or those for whom vaccines are not recommended due to certain illnesses, allergies, or immune problems.

Across counties and school districts in California vaccination coverage varies widely. For example, the proportion of kindergarten students in 2015 who received all state-required immunization ranges from 100 percent (Sierra County) to 72 percent (Nevada County). School district coverage rates vary even more. To put it into context, vaccination coverage across school districts in California varies as widely as it does between developed and developing regions around the world.

Low rates of vaccination and high rates of vaccination exemptions tend to be geographically clustered. As a result, vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks can, and do, occur where unvaccinated people cluster in schools and communities, even within countries with high overall vaccination coverage. And some diseases considered to be eliminated can reappear. In 2014, for example, the United States experienced a record 668 measles cases across 27 states, despite the fact that measles elimination was documented in the United States in 2000.

Researchers have identified the need for more effective vaccines to ward off future pertussis outbreaks. In the meantime, they stress that vaccination is essential for people of all ages.

For more information, see the two-part series from PRB: Progress Stalls On Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Solutions to Reducing Vaccine-Preventable Childhood Diseases.

And join us for Vaccination and Vaccine-Preventable Childhood Diseases: Data and Trends, a webinar on July 8th that will explore global, national, and California trends in vaccination and vaccine-preventable childhood diseases.

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Making Data Actionable: Words from Our Web Manager

SClinton_2015.06.23In a world increasingly full of clunky, confusing data sites, is the go-to destination for finding data on children’s health and well-being in California and putting it to use in your work. recently caught the attention of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) as it compiled the Data-Informed Nonprofits issue of its newsletter. Stacy Clinton, web manager at the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, which operates kidsdata, was asked to contribute a guest article.

Check out Stacy’s post, Accessible, Portable, and Actionable Data, for her perspective on kidsdata’s many useful features and what differentiates kidsdata from other data sites.

NTEN aims to help nonprofits use technology more effectively, a goal that resonates with us. The technology is evolving, but the need for kidsdata still exists. We’re here to help nonprofit organizations and public agencies spend less time hunting down data sets and creating their own graphs, and more time completing a grant proposal or advocating for change.

Don’t forget to let us know how you’ve put data to work for California kids for a chance to be featured on our Data in Action page.

PS – check out the Nonprofit Technology Network for additional expert articles, trainings, and updates on the latest in nonprofit tech.

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WEBINAR: How State Policies Can Promote a Lifetime of Health and Well-Being for California’s Children


Tuesday, June 2, 2015
11 a.m. to 12 p.m. PST

Tune in on June 2 for a webinar focused on the strengths and limitations of California’s current health care system for children and families. Experts will discuss a recent report from the California Budget & Policy Center and review the report’s recommendations for how public policy can bolster support for healthy kids.

Child poverty, health care coverage, adequate investment in public health services, and quality care for children with special health care needs are among the issues California must address to create a comprehensive and well-coordinated health care system for children and families, according to the study.

The report, funded by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, also includes an accompanying piece that provides a breakdown of major policy decisions over the last several years that have shaped today’s health system for children in California.

Expert speakers include:

  • Edward L. Schor, MD, Senior Vice President, Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health
  • Timothy T. Brown, Associate Adjunct Professor of Health Economics, University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health
  • Kristin Schumacher, Policy Analyst, California Budget & Policy Center
  • Scott Graves, Director of Research, California Budget & Policy Center

Register for the webinar.


Children’s Health Programs in California: Promoting a Lifetime of Health and Well-Being
California Budget and Policy Center, 5/12/15

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California’s Homeless Students: Nearly 300,000 and Growing

Nearly 300,000 California public school students were homeless at some point during the 2013-2014 school year, according to newly released data. That equates to about 5% of all California’s public school students, up from 3.6% in 2010-2011.

HYP_Logo_2015 NAEHCY_Logo_2015

The data are now available online through a partnership among the California Homeless Youth Project, an initiative of the California Research Bureau, the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY), and, a program of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.

At, the data can be viewed by county and school district, and by state and US legislative district. Also on are the number and percentage of homeless public school students by grade level and nighttime residence. View the summary page for an overall view of the data. These indicators are the most recent, local, and legislatively relevant data currently available.

A student is considered homeless if he or she lacks a “fixed, regular, and adequate” nighttime residence at any point during the school year. This includes temporary or unstable housing arrangements such as staying in motels, homeless shelters or with others due to loss of housing.

“Children and youth experiencing homelessness encounter many obstacles to receiving an education,” said Shahera Hyatt, Director of the California Homeless Youth Project. “A variety of factors can make it difficult to stay in school and thrive in an educational environment: moving from shelter to hotel or couch to car; lack of access to basic necessities such as showers, transportation, and food; family conflict; poverty; and stigma about their living situation.”

Patricia Julianelle, NAEHCY’s Director of State Projects and Legal Affairs, added, “As state and federal policymakers pursue solutions to homelessness, we hope these numbers illustrate the gravity of the problem and provide additional motivation to prioritize these children and youth.”

Key Findings

The five California counties with the highest incidence of homelessness in 2013-2014 are:
Explore data by county and school district.

California assembly districts with highest number of homeless students:
Explore data by assembly district.

California senate districts with highest number of homeless students:
Explore data by senate district.

US Congressional Districts with the highest number of homeless students:
Explore data by congressional district.

For more information and context to this data, see the California Homeless Youth Project’s recent report, California’s Homeless Students: A Growing Population (PDF).

The California Homeless Youth Project is a research and policy initiative of the California Research Bureau supported by funding from the California Wellness Foundation and dedicated to educating local and state policymakers about young people experiencing homelessness.

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Influencing Public Policy through an Open Data Alliance

open_data_alliance_2015California legislators currently are considering 11 bills related to homeless youth, and a recent article in California Healthline suggests that this attention is due in part to an innovative “open data” partnership that included

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, which operates kidsdata, joined forces in 2014 with the California Homeless Youth Project (HYP) and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) to mine data collected by the California Department of Education on the numbers and percentages of homeless public school students in California.

Nearly 270,000 public school students were homeless at some point in the 2012-2013 school year, which equates to about 4 percent of all California’s public school students—double the national average. The data, sorted by county, school district, and legislative district, were made available only on

The partners released an issue brief (PDF), posted the data on, and conducted a webinar on the findings. A press release (PDF) and phone briefing led to extensive media coverage. The partners also delivered the brief and customized data packets to all legislators, making it easy for them to assess the extent of homelessness among public school students in their own district, and to consider the suggested policy solutions to address the problem.

“This project illustrates the potential for open data to have an impact on legislation and policymaking,” said Regan Foust, senior manager for data and research at the foundation. “The partners’ goal was to highlight a significant child health issue by uncovering data and making it easy to find, understand and share, and then bring the data to the attention of individuals who have the power to effect change.”

The partnership members expect to jointly release new 2013-2014 homelessness student data later this month.

How Open Data Can Shape Public Policy
California Healthline

See the data:

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How One Nonprofit Uses


“There’s absolutely no doubt that has helped us get several grants and start lots of conversations in the community.”

So says India Swearingen, the evaluation and insight director for United Way of the Bay Area. Her agency is creating a movement to cut poverty in the region, and uses to bolster grant proposals and to enhance the information in its community library.

Swearingen notes that she frequently uses the narrative context that accompanies every indicator on kidsdata. “I like the text that explains why the data is important—too often, we put out metrics and don’t explain their significance,” she says. While she also uses other data sites, she says that kidsdata is particularly easy to navigate, and it provides data at the county level that other sites may not have.

A recent survey of users showed that over one-third of site users are nonprofit service providers. Please help your nonprofit colleagues by sharing your story of how you use in your work, and check out how other organizations have used data on our Data in Action page. Contact us at or post your story on our Facebook page.

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