Widespread Childhood Adversity Threatens the Long-Term Health of Adults and the Children Who Live With Them

Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences Among California Adults Living in Households With Children, 2013-2019

Pie chart showing the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences among California adults living in households with children in 2013-2019

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)—such as abuse, exposure to domestic violence, divorce of parents, and growing up with substance abuse or mental illness at home—can disrupt a child’s development and have lifelong negative consequences. Unfortunately, these experiences are all too common.

In California, two-thirds of adults living in households with children had at least one adverse experience in their childhood. Of those, more than a quarter had at least four ACEs, according to the latest estimates from the California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Of those, more than a quarter had at least four ACEs, according to the latest estimates from the California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

Exposure to ACEs is linked to many chronic health conditions in adulthood, including cancer, depression, heart disease, obesity, and substance abuse. It is also linked to social problems such as behavioral and learning challenges, homelessness, poverty, and unemployment. The more adversities someone experiences, the higher the likelihood they will suffer substantial and long-lasting social, financial, and health effects throughout childhood and into adulthood. The effects can even be passed from generation to generation.

But negative outcomes aren’t inevitable. Support from healthy relationships and environments can buffer the negative effects that childhood adversities can have on a person’s life.

How Are Children Affected by Adults With ACEs?

Adults who experienced adversities in childhood are more likely to have economic hardship in adulthood. Children in families with economic hardship or high parental stress are more likely to experience adversities than children in less-stressful family environments. In addition, parents and caregivers who experience physical, mental, or financial difficulties of their own may struggle to nurture and provide buffering supports for their children. Because of these links, the effects of an adult’s ACEs can be transmitted to subsequent generations.

Who Is Most Affected by ACEs?

Some populations face greater adversities in childhood than others.

The BRFFS findings show, statewide, that in households with children:

How Can We Break the Cycle?

  • Get involved. Join a local coalition to be part of the effort.
  • Support protective factors like increasing social connectedness within the community; reducing poverty; and improving school readiness, neighborhood safety, and play areas for children.
  • Support efforts to reduce stigma around seeking help with depression, parenting challenges, substance misuse, and suicidal ideation.
  • Improve monitoring:
    • Screen for ACEs; find ways to gather data on childhood adversities and track trends while protecting patient privacy.
    • Expand sample sizes in surveys like the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
    • Track other factors associated with adversities, like child poverty, incarceration, and substance misuse.

Read more about strategies to prevent and address childhood adversity.

Funding for KidsData.org’s latest information on adult retrospective ACEs is provided by the California Department of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, Essentials for Childhood Initiative.

 

Webinar

Join us for “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in California,” a webinar hosted by the California Essentials for Childhood Initiative and KidsData that will be held on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m PT.

 

KidsData in the News

U.S. Birth Rates Rose Slightly in 2021 After a Steep Drop in the First Year of the Pandemic, CDC Data Shows

In a CNN interview, KidsData Acting Director Beth Jarosz discusses the rise in the preterm birth rate in 2021, as well as the overall increase in births that year.

Alta tasa de suicidios entre jóvenes es indicador de la crisis de salud mental

A La Opinión story quoted KidsData Acting Director Beth Jarosz on worrying trends in teen mental health and groups, including indigenous and LGBTQ+ youth, who are at high risk.

California Has a Child Care Crisis. How Finding It—and Paying for It—Can Be a Nightmare

A Fresno Bee article cited KidsData information on the availability of licensed child care.

Free Parenting Program Helps Orange County Children Navigate Anxiety and Fear

A Business Enterprise article cited KidsData information on the share of children ages 12 to 17 who reported needing help for emotional or mental health problems such as feeling sad, anxious, or nervous.

Humboldt Child Care Challenges Highlighted on “National Day Without Child Care”

A KRCR television story cited KidsData figures on the availability of child-care spaces for Humboldt County children living in working families.

 

Children’s Health Resources

Adverse Childhood Experiences Data Report

The California Essentials for Childhood Initiative has released a new report describing the prevalence of ACEs in California, ACEs-related demographic disparities, and the impacts of ACEs on mental health, behavior, and chronic disease.

Gun Violence and American Children

PRB compiled research on how gun violence affects youth in the United States and what policy strategies can help reduce risk.

 

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about childhood adversity and resilience, children’s emotional health, deaths, and juvenile arrests.

See links to the latest here.

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17,031 Reasons to Care About Gun Violence

Firearm Death Rate Among Children and Young Adults Ages 0-24

Line graph displaying trends in rate of firearm-related death per 100,000 children and young adults ages 0 to 24 for California and the United States from 2000 to 2020.
National Gun Violence Awareness Day is this week, and last week 19 children and two adults were killed by a shooter at their elementary school. At KidsData, we strive to keep our writing fact based. The fact is, last week many parents—including us—had tears in their eyes as they dropped their children off at school.

The grief we feel as a nation over this tragedy is real. The terror parents are feeling is nearly paralyzing. But paralysis won’t solve this problem. KidsData is dedicated to numbers and here’s one that every Californian should consider:

17,031.

That’s how many of our state’s young people under age 25 died of firearm injuries from 2000 to 2020.

17,031 who will never hug their mom or dad again.

17,031 who will never start families or see their own children grow up.

Guns are now the leading mechanism of injury-related death for children in the United States. In 2020, for the first time in decades, more children ages 17 and younger died from guns than from motor vehicle crashes. That’s not because fewer car crashes occurred in 2020, but because the number of gun deaths rose faster.

Even though California’s rate of gun-related child and young adult deaths has been well below the national average for a decade, 2020 saw a dramatic increase, led primarily by a rise in homicides.

As grim as these numbers are, they tell only part of the story. Each young person who is lost leaves shattered family members and grieving friends. The numbers also fail to convey the impact on survivors of gun violence who often suffer serious injuries and psychological trauma. (In 2020, 11,258 children under age 18 across the United States went to the emergency room with nonfatal gunshot wounds.) And the numbers cannot capture the traumatic impact of gun violence on all of us as a society. As just one example, a study found that mothers who witness at least one shooting in their community were up to 60% more likely to meet criteria for depression than mothers who did not.

What Can We Do?

Despite more than two decades of a federal freeze on funding gun violence research, we know that there are effective ways to reduce gun violence and gun deaths. For example, safe gun storage works. Research on child access prevention laws links them to a 17% reduction in firearm-related homicides committed by juveniles.

The authors of “Dying Young in The United States: What’s Driving High Death Rates Among Americans Under Age 25 and What Can Be Done?” propose a thorough list of research-backed policy solutions to reduce gun deaths among children and youth, including:

  • Institute universal background checks, waiting periods, and gun safety training.
  • Establish a robust federal database of gun owners and create a national firearm licensing system.
  • Repeal concealed-carry licenses.
  • Ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks.
  • Restrict gun ownership by persons with criminal records, pass extreme risk protection order laws, and use restraining and ex parte orders to reduce gun access among those at risk of harming themselves or others.
  • Increase the legal age to buy a gun.
  • Fund research into the risk factors for and effects of gun violence to support evidence-based policy decisions to reduce gun injuries and deaths.

The evidence shows that these common-sense practices could make a big difference. We have 17,031 good reasons to put them into action.

Explore the latest data on firearms deaths at KidsData.org, and stay tuned for updated firearm injuries data, to be added when new data become available.

Adapted from the PRB blog “31,780 Reasons to Care About Gun Violence.”

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Webinar: Prevalence, Disparities, and Impacts of Childhood Adversity in California

Join us Wednesday, June 29, 2022, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. PT for “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in California,” a webinar hosted by the California Essentials for Childhood (EfC) Initiative and KidsData.

This webinar will highlight new ACEs data collected from 2013 to 2019 through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Beth Jarosz and Nathan Porter of KidsData will report on the statewide prevalence of ACEs, ACEs-related demographic disparities, the impact of ACEs on Californians’ mental health, behavior, and chronic disease, and how to access the new data.

Register now for the “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in California” webinar. Upon registration, a calendar invitation with Zoom information will be emailed to you. If you have questions, please email kidsdata@prb.org.

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Latest Test Results Underscore Stark Inequities Impacting California K-12 Students

Reading Proficiency Among California Students Tested in 2021, by Race/Ethnicity

Bar display of reading profiency among students students tested in 2021, by Race/Ethnicity

The annual California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests typically are completed by more than 95% of public-school students statewide in grades 3 through 8 and 11. But testing did not occur in 2020 because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and in 2021 fewer than 25% of students completed the tests.

While the latest data represent only a fraction of students, the results—supported by a California Department of Education analysis of individual students’ scores across time—point to continued struggles with disparities in math and reading proficiency across racial and ethnic groups and socioeconomic levels.

Key 2021 findings:

  • Statewide, only about one-third of students who were tested met or exceeded their grade-level standards in math, and less than half of students met or exceeded standards in reading (English language arts).
  • Among racial/ethnic groups for which data are available, at least 60% of Asian, Filipino, multiracial, and white students scored proficient in reading, compared with fewer than 45% of American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students. Math proficiency results show a similar achievement gap between these same groups.
  • Students with limited English language skills (English learners)—who tend to have added academic challenges compared with English-fluent students—were less likely to be proficient in reading and math.
  • Among students who were socioeconomically disadvantaged—those eligible for free or reduced-price school meals or whose parents did not finish high school—only 20% scored proficient in math versus more than 50% of students who were not disadvantaged. Similarly, just over one-third of disadvantaged students were proficient in reading, compared with about two-thirds of their peers without socioeconomic disadvantage.

Substantial academic inequities by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status have endured statewide and nationally for decades. While major education policy reforms have taken place in recent years, California leaders face ongoing challenges in serving six million K-12 public school students, more than half of whom are socioeconomically disadvantaged and more than one in six are English learners. Continued efforts are needed to ensure that all students—regardless of race, language, social position, or circumstance—have equitable access to high-quality learning environments, instruction, and supports necessary for their success.

KidsData in the News

Mental Health Crisis: Calaveras Students Experience Depression, Suicidal Thoughts, High Rates of Abuse

A Calaveras Enterprise report on youth mental health in Calaveras County includes KidsData figures on depression and child maltreatment.

How the Deadly COVID-19 Pandemic Has Forever Changed the Nation

In a KCBS interview, KidsData Acting Director Beth Jarosz discusses how the pandemic has affected California’s children.

Children’s Health Resources

Data Playbook for Prevention Action Planning

KidsData is featured in this guide developed by Safe and Sound to help counties source, select, gather, analyze, and share data to create effective child maltreatment prevention plans.

Community Strategies to Address California’s Digital Divide and Its Impact on Children and Families (PDF)

This new report by PACEs Connection and the California Essentials for Childhood Initiative focuses on the impact of the digital divide on children’s health and well-being and on the communities in which children live, grow, and play.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about children’s emotional health, foster care, math proficiency, and reading proficiency. See links to the latest here.

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Child Maltreatment Cases Declined During Pandemic, But Are Children Safer?

Children With Substantiated Reports of Abuse or Neglect, 2000-2020

Trend of children with substantiated cases of abuse, 2000-2020

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, an opportunity to encourage action to ensure that every child has a safe and nurturing home environment. If not prevented or addressed, child maltreatment can disrupt healthy brain development and have lasting negative effects on physical well-being, mental health, and life opportunities.

According to the latest data, 61,419 California children under age 18 were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect in 2020, down from 69,680 in 2019. While the rate of children with confirmed (substantiated) reports of maltreatment has been falling for 20 years, the drop in 2020 was particularly sharp, at more than 10%. In addition, the rate of children alleged (reported) to have been abused or neglected declined by more than 17% in 2020, after holding fairly steady for two decades.

Do these declines in maltreatment cases mean children were safer in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic? Child welfare experts have mixed views.

It’s important to remember that the data presented here do not capture child maltreatment that is never reported. Also, the pandemic’s impacts will vary according to each family’s risk and protective factors.

Some leaders and scholars suggest that because many families faced increased stress and financial hardship—two risk factors for maltreatment—children may have been less safe in 2020. Moreover, closures of schools, child-care centers, and public places meant children had less contact with adults outside the home who could witness and report suspected maltreatment. In other words, the dip may have been in reporting, rather than in maltreatment itself.

According to other experts, it’s possible that children were safer in 2020, as government assistance alleviated financial stress for some families, and more time together at home may have strengthened child-caregiver relationships. Ultimately, it’s difficult to determine whether the declines in 2020 figures are due to decreases in maltreatment, underreporting, or both.

Even if declines in the most recent data reflect improved child safety overall, concerning trends persist:

  • Increasingly, the state’s youngest children face the highest risk for reported and substantiated maltreatment. In 2020, 46% of confirmed victims were under age 6, up from 39% in 2000.
  • In California, more than 7 in 10 children with substantiated reports of maltreatment suffer general neglect. The inability to provide for a child’s basic needs is often related to inadequate family income or access to support services.
  • Statewide and nationally, African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children are consistently overrepresented at all stages of involvement with the child welfare system, from reported and substantiated maltreatment to removal from home and placement in foster care. This is due to an array of complex factors, including systemic racism and bias, that disadvantage communities of color.

Child maltreatment can be eliminated through strategies that address socioeconomic inequities; improve the quality and availability of support services, particularly for groups at risk; and promote protective factors at the individual, family, community, and system levels. In recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we all can embrace children’s well-being as a shared responsibility and take action to support children and families in our communities. Read more about ways to prevent child abuse and neglect.

KidsData in the News

Domestic Violence in California: Signs of Abuse and First Steps to Get Help

A Sacramento Bee report on domestic violence referenced a recent KidsData blog on intimate partner violence (subscription required).

Expertos aconsejan vacunar a los niños para evitar que 2022 sea el peor año para los menores

A La Opinión report quoted KidsData Deputy Director Beth Jarosz on trends in child COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Health Data Resource

Building Up Communities by Breaking Down Data

Only by disaggregating data can we understand enough to make wise policy decisions that build up our communities. Read more.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about child abuse and neglect, pupil support services, school attendance and discipline, and student demographics. See links to the latest here.

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Calls for Assistance Don’t Tell Full Story of Intimate Partner Violence During the Pandemic

Domestic Violence Calls for Assistance per 1,000 Adults, by County, 2020

Map of domestic violence calls for assistance by California county for 2020, with a rate per 1,000 adults.

Increases in intimate partner violence (IPV) after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 have been widely documented, as many families experienced financial strain, social isolation, and other pressures. IPV may involve stalking, psychological aggression, sexual coercion or violence, or physical violence by a current or past intimate partner. Survivors of IPV—and the children who witness it—may experience immediate psychological trauma and physical injuries, as well as increased risks of long-term emotional, social, and health problems.

About one in three California parents/caregivers of children under age 18 experienced at least one form of IPV—psychological or physical—during the first 16 months of the pandemic, according to July 2021 estimates. More than one in four caregivers experienced psychological IPV, and one in six caregivers experienced physical violence.

While IPV occurs across all demographic groups, caregivers of children with special health care needs (CSHCN) were particularly impacted. In the first 16 months of the pandemic, nearly half (49%) of CSHCN caregivers experienced some type of IPV, 41% experienced psychological IPV, and 29% experienced physical IPV—more than twice the estimates for caregivers without CSHCN.

Percentage of Caregivers Experiencing IPV During COVID-19 Pandemic, by Household CSHCN Status, July 2021

Bar chart of percentage of California caregivers experiencing intimate partner violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, for caregivers in households with children with special health care needs, households without children with special health care needs, and all households, as of July 2021.

In 2020, 160,646 domestic violence calls for assistance were made to California authorities—a rate of 6.1 calls per 1,000 adults ages 18 to 69. Although statewide figures held steady between 2019 and 2020, a majority of counties saw their rates increase.

Why do calls for assistance and caregiver reports paint a different picture of IPV in California? Data on domestic violence calls, while concerning, likely represent only a portion of IPV incidents. Many who experience IPV do not seek help, and “domestic violence” captures only certain acts and threats of physical injury, subject to interpretation by law enforcement. High rates of IPV among caregivers during the pandemic point to a more serious public health issue, and a greater need for services and supports to address the impacts of IPV on survivors, children, and families.

Fortunately, IPV can be prevented. Efforts targeted at teenagers and young adults are critical, as younger partners are at higher risk than older groups. Policymakers and other leaders can support cross-sector, comprehensive strategies at the individual, family, and community levels. For example, schools can provide safe, supportive environments and programs to teach youth healthy relationship skills, while policymakers can fund family support services and strengthen the safety net to improve family financial security. Read more about what can be done to prevent and address IPV.

KidsData in the News

‘A Gentler Start’ as Local School Districts Prepare to Expand Transitional Kindergarten

A Mountain View Voice report on state plans for expanding transitional kindergarten cites KidsData’s indicator of annual child care costs.

Children’s Health Resource

Children Born During Pandemic May Experience Slight Neurodevelopmental Delays

A new study by researchers at Columbia University and the Columbia Population Research Center shows that infants born during the pandemic—regardless of whether their mothers had COVID-19 during pregnancy—scored slightly lower on certain tests of neurodevelopment at six months old, compared to a similar group of infants born before the pandemic.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about characteristics of children with special needs, intimate partner violence, nutrition, and school climate. See links to the latest here.

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Child Poverty: Why Measurement Matters

Children in Poverty According to Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2020

Screenshot of SPM Child Poverty Rates

The way poverty is measured plays a role in the distribution of emergency relief during periods of economic instability. What policymakers mean when they talk about poverty has implications for the function and scope of the social safety net in ensuring children and families have the resources necessary for an adequate standard of living.

The share of children in poverty is often quantified according to the official poverty measure based on federal poverty thresholds. Developed in 1963, this measure compares a family’s pre-tax cash income against an inflation-adjusted threshold derived from the cost of a minimally adequate diet. It does not account for in-kind resources, non-food expenses, or geographic variations in the cost of living.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) was developed to address shortcomings of the official poverty measure by accounting for a range of common expenditures and government benefits. Additionally, the SPM adopts a broader view of resource and expense sharing among individuals living together, extending the definition of a family to include unmarried partners and their children, along with unrelated and foster children. SPM thresholds also are adjusted according to whether a family rents or owns their home.

The California Poverty Measure (CPM) builds on the SPM method, with adjustments tailored to the state’s unique population, policies, and benefits. For example, the CPM incorporates California-specific safety net supports, correction for survey underreporting of program participation, and finer geographic detail in housing cost adjustments.

Read more about how poverty in the United States is measured and why it matters.

Also learn more about these and other measures of economic well-being available on KidsData.org.

Children’s Health Resource

A new PRB Population Bulletin, “Dying Young in the United States,” spotlights the wide gap in death rates between Americans under age 25 and their peers in other wealthy countries. Explore why policies that reduce child poverty, address interlocking systems of racial/ethnic discrimination, and improve health care access for all families could lower the country’s disproportionately high death rate.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about intimate partner violence and family income and poverty. See links to the latest here.

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Quick Tip: Receive Customized Data Alerts

Screenshot of KidsData indicator page with email sign up for Data Alerts.
Stay current on the data that matter most to you. Subscribe to Data Alerts and receive an email notification every time we update data related to the specific interests you select. Visit Email Subscriptions to select and edit your preferences.

  • Topics: Choose one or more of KidsData.org’s 57 topics on children’s well-being or sign up from any indicator page to receive an alert when data in that indicator’s topic are updated.
  • Regions: Select any county, city, school district, or legislative district statewide, then follow the link in your alert to view a customized table with the most recent data for just your chosen location(s).
  • Demographic Groups: Specify your priority populations to take advantage of our demographic breakdowns—gender, age group, race/ethnicity, income level, sexual orientation, and more.

Screenshot of KidsData email preferences page where you can select topics, regions, and demographic groups for Data Alerts.
Sign up for Data Alerts and the next time you need updated data for reporting, program planning, or evaluation, the numbers you’re looking for will be just a click away.

Note: If your interests are broad, don’t worry—multiple selections do not make your preferences more specific; you’ll receive Data Alerts whenever data matching any of your selections are updated.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about unemployment, family income and poverty, and food security. See links to the latest here.

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The Importance of Feeling Safe and Connected at School

Youth With High, Medium, and Low Levels of School Connectedness Who Feel Very Unsafe at School, 2017-2019

School safety plays a crucial role in youth’s development and academic success. Students who feel safe at school tend to have better emotional health and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. That sense of safety contributes to an overall feeling of connection. School connectedness is measured as feeling happy, safe, close to people, a part of school, and believing teachers treat students fairly.

In California, 20% of students in grades 7, 9, 11, and non-traditional programs who had low connectedness felt very unsafe at school, according to the latest available data. In contrast, fewer than 3% of their peers who had a higher level of connection to school felt very unsafe.

Both safety and connectedness can be improved by providing schools with adequate support to create positive climates and expand the workforce of qualified mental health professionals serving youth. Supporting schools in these needed improvements can help students feel safer and more connected to school. Learn more about other policies and practices to improve school safety and connectedness.

Funding for KidsData.org’s latest information on school safety is provided by the California Department of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, Rape Prevention and Education Program.

Webinar Now Available

In case you missed it, our latest webinar recording and slides are now available! During the webinar, “Child Well-Being During the Pandemic,” Lori Turk-Bicakci, KidsData’s director, explored findings on caregivers’ concerns about their children’s mental health and educational progress. Tracy Mendez, California School-Based Health Alliance’s executive director, shared how school-based health centers (SBHCs) can help address concerns about student health and well-being. See recording and slides.

 

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about bullying and harassment at school, gang involvement, and school safety. See links to the latest here.

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Child and Family Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Child and Family Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic provides quick access to data available on KidsData.org that describe life disruptions and emotional and behavioral consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data help measure the pandemic’s impact on children and caregivers, builds understanding of how families are faring, and suggests where support might be most needed.

Access data on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on critical areas of children’s health and well-being:

Data are available for California and seven regions within California. At the state level, findings are broken down by income level, race/ethnicity, and presence of a child with special health care needs in the household. Visit the topic summary page for more information and links to additional research.

Sign up for KidsData News to receive periodic highlights on child well-being from this questionnaire and other noteworthy data sources.

Caregivers Share Their Thoughts

Caregivers responding to the Child and Family Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic questionnaire reflected on caring for their children during the pandemic.

“I feel like I have become more loving, considerate, and patient with my children. The need to stay home has helped us create structure. I thought I was going to get irritated by having my kids home with me all the time, but it’s really been the opposite.”

“I’ve had to let go of a lot of expectations and have really learned what is important.”

“The biggest issue is protecting my child from my own anxiety and worries. She’s young enough that her daily life isn’t too disrupted but old enough to know the grownups are upset.”

About the Data Source

The data come from a national questionnaire covering a wide range of content areas to help inform on the pandemic’s impact. The questionnaire, Family Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic, was designed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA), and Tufts Medical Center, Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences (HOPE). Findings from the questionnaire are intended to inform experts at AAP, CDC, PCAA, and HOPE on the pandemic’s effects on families and help them produce resources for medical practitioners, caregivers, and others.

In California, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health (LPFCH) and the California Department of Public Health Essentials for Childhood Initiative (EfC) led by the California Department of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch and the California Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention, funded an oversample of the questionnaire to produce findings at the sub-state level and about children with special health care needs. Findings will inform policy makers, program leaders, advocates, and others about how experiences varied within California and to what extent families with children with special health care needs faced greater challenges.

The questionnaire was administered in California in three waves across nine months. The first wave was administered from Nov. 9, 2020 to Dec. 11, 2020, the second wave was administered from March 22, 2021 to April 12, 2021, and the third wave was administered July 8, 2021 to July 27, 2021.

To learn more about the development of the questionnaire and access national-level findings, visit Family Snapshots: Life During the Pandemic on the American Academy of Pediatrics website.

Questionnaire Sample

In California, wave one included 1,526 caregivers who had at least one child under age 18 in the household. Wave two included 1,520 caregivers, and wave three included 1,602 caregivers. Most caregivers were married or in a domestic partnership (69% in wave one, 72% in wave two, and 73% in wave three). In wave one, 29% of caregivers had at least one child with a special health care need in the household; in wave two, it was 35% of caregivers; and in wave three, it was 34% of caregivers. Children with special health care needs have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally.

Demographics were similar in each wave. Using wave one as representative of all waves, just over half of caregivers were female (54%). The racial/ethnic characteristics of caregivers included Hispanic (49%), white (28%) Asian (9%), Black (5%), and Native American (2%). About the same percentage of caregivers in all three waves had a high school diploma (30%), attended some college or had a two-year degree (29%), or had a four-year or post-graduate degree (30%), while 12% of caregivers did not have a high school diploma.

Annual household income differed slightly across the waves. The percentage of caregivers who reported incomes under $30,000 decreased (28% in wave one, 25% in wave two, and 22% in wave three), while reports of incomes at $100,000 and above increased (25% in waves one and two and 29% in wave three).

In each wave, data are weighted to reflect caregivers for children under age 18 in California.

Related Webinars

Nov. 18, 2021:Child Well-Being During the Pandemic” [slides]. Presenters Lori Turk-Bicakci from KidsData and Tracy Mendez from the California School-Based Health Alliance provide an overview of three waves of data from the Family Experiences During COVID-19 Pandemic Questionnaire and discuss how school-based health centers can help address concerns. The webinar was sponsored by the California Department of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch and the California Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention’s Essentials for Childhood Initiative.

Apr. 29, 2021:Family Experiences During COVID-19 Pandemic Data” [slides]. Drs. Robert Sege from the HOPE Project at Tufts Medical Center and Lori Turk-Bicakci from KidsData provide an overview of the questionnaire and cover national and California-level findings. The webinar was sponsored by the California Department of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch and the California Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention’s Essentials for Childhood Initiative.

Data on Family Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Education, Health Care, and Social Activities

Economic Security

Supportive Services

Emotional and Behavioral Health

Child and Caregiver Safety

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Positive Childhood Experiences

Caring for Children With Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN)

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