Many Children With Emotional or Behavioral Conditions Do Not Receive Treatment or Counseling

Sound mental health prepares young people to meet the challenges of growing up and becoming productive and engaged adults. Most emotional and behavioral conditions emerge in childhood or young adulthood, and, if not identified and treated, can contribute to negative developmental, educational, and health outcomes throughout life.

Anxiety, behavior problems, and depression are the most common mental health disorders among children in the United States. Often, a child with one of these conditions has another at the same time, multiplying the challenges.

New data collected from parents and caregivers between 2017 and 2021 show that an estimated 12% of California children ages 3-17 had one or more diagnosed mental health conditions—attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety problems, behavioral or conduct problems, or depression—at the time of survey. Just over half of these children (52%) received mental health treatment or counseling in the previous year, while the remainder were reported as either not needing services or not receiving the services they needed. By comparison, nationwide, 17% of children had diagnosed conditions, and a similar share (53%) had received treatment or counseling in the previous year.

Among children with special health care needs (CSHCN)—who 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—the estimated prevalence of mental health conditions is more than three times higher than in the general child population, statewide and nationally.

Even with higher prevalence rates, many CSHCN do not receive mental health treatment. In 2017-2021, 58% of California CSHCN with emotional or behavioral conditions had received mental health services in the previous year, compared with 62% of CSHCN nationwide.

Children With Special Health Care Needs Receiving Mental Health Services in the Previous Year, Among Those With Emotional or Behavioral Conditions: 2017-2021

Pie charts showing, among children with special health care needs in California and the U.S. with emotional or behavioral conditions in 2017-2021, the share who had received mental health treatment or counseling in the previous 12 months.

To ensure that all children and their families receive the mental health care they need, regardless of special needs status, region, health insurance coverage, socioeconomics, race/ethnicity, or other factors, policymakers and other leaders can promote cross-sector strategies to improve timely access to adequate screenings and appropriate specialty providers. Decisionmakers should also prioritize coordinated, continuous care and education and assistance in navigating complex service systems, particularly for families with multiple needs.

Read more about children’s emotional health, characteristics of children with special needs, and access to services for children with special needs.

KidsData in the News

Former Bay Area Congresswoman Launches Foundation to Help Pull Women, Children Out of Poverty

Using the California Poverty Measure, an ABC7 News story cited KidsData on the number of San Mateo County children living in poverty.


Improving the Health and Wellbeing of Children and Youth Through Health Care System Transformation

The National Academies Committee on Improving the Health and Wellbeing of Children and Youth Through Health Care System Transformation—tasked with conducting a consensus study to examine promising mechanisms and levers for innovations that can be implemented in the health care system to improve the health and well-being of children and youth—will hold its second meeting March 29-30. Register to attend public sessions virtually.

Expanded SNAP Benefits During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned

The Institute for Research on Poverty will hold a webinar on April 5 examining the role of food assistance in the U.S. social safety net, how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was adjusted to respond to public health and economic crises brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, assessments of those interventions, and how policymakers and practitioners can use lessons learned to improve the program’s efficacy and impact. Register to participate.

Good News

Family Dinner Routine More Common in Hispanic and Immigrant Families

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2021, 87% of U.S. parents ate dinner with their children at least five days a week, up from 84% in 2019—a positive change likely related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among Hispanic and foreign-born parents, proportions were even higher, at 90% and 89%, respectively.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about access to services for children with special health care needs, characteristics of children with special needs, children’s emotional health, and immunizations. See links to the latest here.

Posted by

Post Comment

California Families Face a Child Care Crunch (Part 2): A Closer Look at Availability and Cost

Availability of Licensed Child Care Spaces for California Children Ages 0 to 12
With Working Parents: 2021

Pie chart showing, among California children ages 0-12 with parents in the labor force, the share with and without an available licensed child care space in 2021.

The second in our two-part series on child care and early education explores program availability, access, and cost across California communities.

Between 2019 and 2021, California lost more than 1,100 licensed child care facilities and nearly 19,000 licensed spaces—more spaces than the total number of children in Mendocino or 20 other California counties.

KidsData analyzed 2021 child care supply data in conjunction with labor force estimates and found that licensed spaces were available for around one in four children ages 0 to 12 with working parents, statewide. This figure did not drop relative to 2019, despite the overall decline in licensed child care supply. At the local level, wide variation exists in access to licensed child care, with availability in some counties lower than one space for every seven children in 2021.

Even when spaces are available, the cost can be prohibitive for many families. In 2021, median county-level costs for full-time licensed infant care ranged from $13,600 to $22,900 annually in child care centers and from $10,100 to $19,700 in family child care homes. Care for children ages 2 to 5 was less expensive, but still as high as $19,600 in centers and $18,000 in child care homes.

Enrollment in pre-primary education programs, which provide alternatives to child care for children of preschool or kindergarten age, declined in tandem with licensed child care supply. In 2021, an estimated 51% of California children ages 3 to 5 were enrolled in preschool or kindergarten, down from pre-pandemic levels of more than 60%. Some regions face challenges across multiple early childhood systems—the Inland Empire counties of Riverside and San Bernardino had preschool or kindergarten enrollment rates lower than 42%, and licensed child care availability lower than 15%, in 2021.

Read more about strategies to build a comprehensive, high-quality early care and education system that is accessible and affordable for all families.

KidsData in the News

Americans Are Having Fewer Children. Is That a Problem?

KidsData’s Beth Jarosz is featured in an LX News piece on the economic and social implications of declining U.S. birth rates.

Children’s Health Resources

New Childcare Data Shows Prices Are Untenable for Families

Child care consumes a large share of family income among those who pay for services—between 8% and 19.3% of median family income per child—according to a U.S. Department of Labor blog.

New Reports Describe California’s Early Intervention System for Infants and Toddlers

The California Budget and Policy Center, supported by First 5 Center for Children’s Policy, recently released reports on early intervention services available through California’s Early Start program, and recommendations for how the program can better support young children with disabilities or developmental delays.


Elevate Youth California Supporting Capacity Building for Community Organizations

Grants up to $400,000 are available in support of community-based programs and practices for substance use disorder prevention among youth ages 12 to 26. Applications are due February 20.

Posted by

Post Comment

California Families Face a Child Care Crunch (Part 1): Guest commentary by Gemma DiMatteo

Supply of Child Care Spaces in Licensed Facilities: 2019, 2021

Table showing the number of licensed child care spaces in California child care centers and family child care homes in 2019 and 2021.

California’s licensed child care supply continues to decline, although the decrease was less than expected during the COVID-19 pandemic, likely due to public supports implemented in 2020 and 2021.

Guest author Gemma DiMatteo.

In this first part of a two-part series on child care and early education, guest author Gemma DiMatteo, research director at the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network, discusses recent key findings about the state’s licensed child care system.

The California Child Care Resource & Referral Network (“the Network”) has released its 2021 California Child Care Portfolio, with county- and state-level data available through and the Network’s data tool.

New data show licensed child care supply declined

Compared with 2019, data from 2021 show a continued decrease in the state’s licensed child care supply, with losses of:

The pandemic could have had a much greater impact on licensed child care supply statewide; however, significant public investment in supporting child care programs likely prevented many from closing. Historically, California has seen a trend of greater decline in family child care home spaces than child care center spaces, but the pandemic seems to have shifted this trend, with a greater decline in center spaces. This is likely due to group size restrictions making it unfeasible to continue operating a center.

There was regional variation in how supply changed

There was substantial variation across counties and regions in the change of licensed child care supply. The northern region of the state saw the biggest decline in spaces (-5%), followed by the southern region (-3%), while the Central Valley and Bay Area experienced changes (negative and positive, respectively) of 1% or less.

Policy implications

These modest declines in child care supply are not nearly as steep as many anticipated with the pandemic. While the reasons for this require further study, it’s clear that child care received a lot of attention and financial support in 2020 and 2021, and that likely played a large role in preventing a steeper decline, demonstrating that increased public investment creates a more stable child care system for families.

Looking beyond one-time investments and expiring policy changes, the Network recommends the following actions be considered if California’s child care system is to be sustained and fortified:

  • Increasing pay for all child care workers.
  • Eliminating, to the extent of the law, the share of subsidized child care costs families are required to pay.
  • Codifying a system of payment for providers of subsidized care based on enrollment.

Visit the Network’s website for more policy ideas and child care resources.

In Part 2 of this series, out in February, we’ll examine the gap between child care demand and availability, families’ barriers to access (including cost), and how these vary across the state. Stay tuned.

KidsData in the News

Child Care Is Crucial to Families and the Economy. California Should Treat It That Way

An editorial in the Sacramento Bee cites KidsData and the Network for child care costs and spaces data.

Children’s Health Resource

Family-Focused Interventions to Prevent Substance Use Disorders in Adolescence

Proceedings from a National Academies workshop explore effective family-focused interventions in primary care settings for preventing substance use disorders, along with efforts to incorporate them into state health care policies.


ACEs Aware Implementation With Intention

This webinar series is designed to help California clinics implement adverse childhood experience (ACE) screening and response. Experts will provide practical, step-by-step guidance, as well as resources and tools to help clinics on their path toward ACE screening implementation.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about breastfeeding and early care and education. See links to the latest here.

Posted by

Post Comment

A Bright Year, a Brighter Future

Children jumping joyfully at the beach

It’s been an exciting and productive first full year in our new home at PRB! We want to thank our partners and all of you who harness the power of data to improve the health and well-being of children and families across our state. While our operations have changed, our mission remains the same—to be your leading resource for data to build a better future for our kids.

2022 highlights:

  • In partnership with the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, we released a fourth wave of exclusive data on family experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, including 55 new indicators on California children’s mental health, health care use, telehealth access, vaccinations, and more. If you missed our latest webinar, access the slides and recording.
  • Our data and expertise were featured on CNN, public radio’s “Here and Now,” and in dozens of local news outlets, advancing the conversation on demographics, poverty, homelessness, child care, COVID-19, mental health, family violence, the social safety net, and more.

Behind the scenes, we’re preparing to make the shift from our current foundation funding model to relying more on support from people like you. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to KidsData today. Together, we can build a brighter 2023—and beyond.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about dental care and family experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. See links to the latest here.

Posted by

Post Comment

Pandemic Remains a Source of Disruption and Stress, Particularly for Families of Children With Special Health Care Needs

Photo of a kindergarten teacher sitting with students in a circle on the floor. They are all wearing masks. The teacher is holding a tablet and a boy is looking at it while clapping his hands.

New data on family experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in California suggest that children with special health care needs (CSHCN) continue to face significant COVID-19-related challenges nearly three years into the pandemic. As students return to in-person classes, the rollback of public health orders has heightened safety concerns among caregivers, and many still fear their children are being left behind academically.

Despite suggestions that life has returned to “normal,” in June one-third of parents and caregivers statewide (33%) reported feelings of nervousness or stress always or most of the time in the previous month—up from 29% in July 2021. Nearly half (45%) said their household finances were negatively impacted since the start of the pandemic, up from less than one-third (32%) a year earlier. And more than half (58%) said they were worried for the safety of their children since public health measures, like masking mandates, relaxed. Rates of concern were even higher in households with CSHCN.

Among households with CSHCN, parents and caregivers were worried about their children’s mental health, even as they said their children were more likely to receive care. In June, 54% of CSHCN caregivers said they were moderately or extremely concerned about the mental health of their oldest child in the previous month, down from 62% the previous July, but considerably higher than the estimate for caregivers in households without CSHCN (28%).

Every effort should be made to ensure that all families have the support they need to recover fully from the COVID-19 pandemic and meet their physical, emotional, educational, and material needs consistently. Read more about policy and program options to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and promote child and family health and well-being.

Funding for’s new information on family experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic is provided by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.


To learn about these new data, join us for “How Families of Children With Special Health Care Needs Are Coping in the ‘New Normal’,” a webinar hosted by PRB and sponsored by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT.

Children’s Health Resource

Supporting Children With Disabilities: Lessons From the Pandemic

Proceedings from a June 2022 National Academies workshop describe policies and practices that could improve the system of care for children with disabilities as well as improve access to services for underserved and marginalized populations.

KidsData in the News

The Math Behind the Poverty Line: Researcher Says Calculations Don’t Account for High Housing Costs

In an interview with public radio’s “Here and Now,” KidsData Acting Director Beth Jarosz discusses who is most impacted by inflation and the rising cost of living, and what an outdated poverty measure means in the United States today.

Good News

San Francisco’s New Department of Early Childhood Wants to Make It Easier for Families to Get Subsidized Child Care

Recent changes in San Francisco and across the state are simplifying the process of finding publicly funded child care and early education services.

Posted by

Post Comment

Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: New Data Show Drop-Off in Screening

Number of California Young People Ages 0 to 20 Screened for Lead Poisoning,
by Blood Lead Level, 2010-2020

Trend graph showing blood lead levels among California children and young adults ages 0 to 20 screened for lead poisoning between 2010 and 2020.

To protect children from lead poisoning, California must increase childhood

California recently declared October Children’s Environmental Health Month, aiming to expand awareness and action around environmental health hazards to children. The last week of October also marks International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Lead poisoning is the most common environmental illness among kids in California, with even minimal exposure to the heavy metal posing serious long-term risks to young people statewide.

There is no known safe level of lead exposure.

Screening is critical because lead exposure usually does not result in obvious symptoms and often goes undetected. Buildup of lead in the body, even at low levels, can cause lifelong physical, neurological, cognitive, and behavioral problems, and high levels of blood lead can be fatal.

More lead exposure screening is urgently needed.

New data reveal that the number of California youth screened for lead poisoning has dropped dramatically in recent years. In 2020, the number of blood lead tests for young people ages 0-20 was nearly 50% lower than in 2010. While COVID-19 disruptions help explain a sharp 2020 drop-off compared with 2019 (nearly 30%), the trend reveals that falling screening rates have been a problem in California for at least the last decade.

What do blood lead levels mean?

As of 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends public health action for children recording blood lead levels (BLLs) of 3.5 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or higher. At present, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has a higher threshold for services (4.5 mcg/dL) but plans to adopt the CDC’s new recommendations. In California, young people with two BLL results at 9.5 mcg/dL or above (or a single result at 14.5 mcg/dL or above) are eligible for comprehensive case management support, including public health nursing services, home inspection, and environmental investigation.

Due to federal and state regulations, the vast majority of young people tested in California are under age 6 (92% in 2020). In 2020, 1.2% of this group (4,130 kids) recorded BLLs of 4.5 mcg/dL or higher. Among ages 6 to 20, 2.3% had BLLs between 4.5 and 9.49 mcg/dL, while 0.5% had levels at 9.5 mcg/dL or above. Altogether, this means there were at least 4,930 young people statewide, most under age 6, in need of public health services for lead exposure.

But without comprehensive testing, the true scope of the problem remains unknown.

All children are at risk, some disproportionately so.

Lead exposure usually occurs through contact with contaminated paint, water, dust, or soil. Children under age 6 are the most vulnerable, as lead is easily absorbed by their developing nervous systems. They are also more likely to be exposed to lead through playing on the ground or hand-mouth contact.

Risk of lead exposure is widespread across communities in California. Analysis by CDPH found that more than 95% of California neighborhoods (census tracts) have at least one risk factor for childhood lead exposure, such as being close to a freeway or having a large share of housing built before 1978. And some communities face multiple risks—10% of neighborhoods have five or more risk factors. Because of these varying risk levels, exposure rates vary widely. Among counties with data in 2020, the percentage of young people with BLLs at or above 4.5 mcg/dL ranged from 0.5% to nearly 5% of those tested.

In addition to differences by location, disparities exist across demographic groups. Inequities in exposure to environmental hazards such as lead have persisted for years, with children of color and those in low-income families facing disproportionate risks.

All children have a right to live, play, and go to school in clean, safe environments. Policymakers, public agencies, schools, health care providers, funders, community organizations, and others—can and should do much more to prevent children’s exposure to lead, increase screening efforts, and improve responses for those who are exposed. Read more about strategies for action.


Join us for “How Families of Children With Special Health Care Needs Are Coping in the ‘New Normal’,” a webinar hosted by PRB and sponsored by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT.

Take Action

Census Bureau Invites Public Input on Designing 2030 Census

The decennial census is the cornerstone of data-driven government policymaking, voter representation, and social analysis for a decade. The U.S. Census Bureau is looking for ways to improve the 2030 Census through strategies for contacting and providing support to the public, motivating everyone to respond, and using new technology and data sources. Submit your thoughts by Nov. 15.

Children’s Health Resource

LGBTQ Youth and Young Adults Are Coming Out Into a Polarized Environment—and Finding Valuable School and Community Support

Calling out the vulnerability and discrimination LGBTQ youth face can be a starting point for adults and institutions that support youth—and youth themselves—to act for change, according to a new PRB article.

KidsData in the News

A CapRadio story on child care uncertainty among Black families cited KidsData on child care costs and availability.

An article in The Epoch Times (published in Chinese) about youth mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic cited KidsData on the ratio of students to school psychologists in Sacramento County.

A UCI News report on the formation of a community alliance to advance University of California, Irvine as a Latino-thriving institution cited KidsData on California’s K-12 student demographics.


Better Life Lab’s Child Care Innovation Reporting Grants

The Better Life Lab is commissioning a series of reported, data- and character-driven written, video, and/or graphic stories and illustrations that highlight innovations within the child care field. Pitches will be considered and stories commissioned on a rolling basis through spring 2023.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about asthma and lead poisoning. See links to the latest here.

Posted by

Post Comment

Webinar: How Families of Children With Special Health Care Needs Are Coping in the “New Normal”

Join us on Tuesday, November 15, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT for How Families of Children With Special Health Care Needs Are Coping in the “New Normal,” a webinar highlighting new data on family experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Families of children with special health care needs (CSHCN) have faced significant challenges over the course of the pandemic. In California, their experiences—from caregiver stress to concerns about emotional and mental health—were captured in four surveys from 2020 to 2022. Speakers will highlight key findings, demonstrate how to access the data, share insights on the pandemic’s impact on families of CSHCN, and suggest opportunities for positive change.

Register here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the webinar.


Beth Jarosz, Acting Director, KidsData
Beth is a program director at PRB, where she manages California-based projects, including KidsData. She has more than 20 years of experience in neighborhood-level data for decision-making across a wide variety of topics ranging from child health to housing. She lives in San Diego County.

Lilian Ansari, Family Advocate
After earning her master’s degree in psychology, Lilian spent nearly 20 years working with various nonprofits and public schools. For the past 15 years, she has advocated for the needs of her own children as well as others. She currently serves as the vice president of the board of directors at Regional Center of the East Bay. Originally from Iran, she now lives in the East Bay with her family.

If you have questions, please email

Posted by

Post Comment

Kids’ Emergency and Hospital Visits Dropped Sharply in 2020, But That’s Only Part of the Story

Emergency Department Visits Among California Children, 2016-2020

California children ages 0 to 17 made almost 1.2 million fewer visits to emergency departments in 2020 than in 2019—a drop of 43%, according to the latest data. Similarly, the state’s 171,769 child hospitalizations in 2020 represented a 22% decline from the previous year.

These drops are likely due to a combination of pandemic-related reasons and behavioral changes. Social distancing and decreased physical activity may have lowered the incidence of certain illnesses and injuries. At the same time, hospital avoidance may have resulted in unmet care needs for some children.

The mix of reasons for emergency department visits and hospitalizations also tell an important story—the shares for asthma/bronchitis fell, while the shares for traumatic injury rose. In addition, trends show that emergency department visits involving child maltreatment did not fall as fast as emergency visits overall.

The latest data also reveal that the top reasons for children’s hospital visits have stayed the same for years:

Mental Illness Main Reason for Hospitalization
  • Since 2008, mental illness has been the most common reason for childhood hospitalization in California (17% of hospitalizations in 2020).
  • The next most common diagnosis is asthma/bronchitis (5% of hospitalizations in 2020).
  • Similar to ED visits, the share of hospitalizations for these reasons varies widely at the local level. For instance, in 2020, the percentage of hospital discharges for mental diseases and disorders was higher than 25% for Placer and Sonoma counties and lower than 10% for Butte, Imperial, and Santa Barbara counties.
Medi-Cal Program Pays for Most Hospital Visits
  • Medi-Cal is the payment source for most childhood ED visits, covering 63% of visits statewide in 2020. At the county level, the portion of ED visits covered by Medi-Cal ranged from 33% to 80%. Private insurance covered 29% of ED visits statewide in 2020, similar to previous years.
  • For childhood hospitalizations, Medi-Cal paid for just over half (51%) in 2020, whereas private insurance covered 37%. Since 2002, Medi-Cal has covered a growing share of hospitalizations, while the share covered by private insurers has shrunk.
New Dataset: Hospital Visits Due to Child Maltreatment

KidsData has added a new set of indicators on ED visits and hospitalizations due to suspected or confirmed child abuse or neglect. Among the key findings:

Read more about strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect and to reduce preventable hospital use.

Funding for’s new information on child maltreatment-related ED visits and hospitalizations is provided by the California Department of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, Essentials for Childhood Initiative.


Join us for “Child Maltreatment-Related Injuries During the COVID-19 Pandemic in California,” a webinar hosted by the California Essentials for Childhood Initiative and KidsData, on Thursday, September 29, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. PT.

Take Action

Federal Evidence Agenda on LGBTQI+ Equity

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is asking for public input on how the federal government can better produce data on sexual orientation and gender identity to address disparities; promote equity; and protect privacy, security, and civil rights. Submit your comments by October 3.


NIH Competition to Reduce Maternal Deaths in Regions That Lack Maternity Care

The National Institutes of Health is offering up to $8 million in cash prizes to accelerate development of home-based or point-of-care technologies to improve postpartum outcomes. Submissions for the first phase of awards are due November 1.

Good News

Child Poverty Fell to Record Low in 2021

Child poverty, calculated by the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), fell to its lowest recorded level in 2021, declining 46% from 9.7% in 2020 to 5.2% in 2021, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released this month.

State Program That Provides Children’s Hearing Aids May Be Expanded to Include More Families

The Hearing Aid Coverage for Children Program may soon extend eligibility to families with partial insurance coverage and to youth up age 21, helping an additional 2,000 young people.

KidsData in the News

Channel Islands YMCA’s Newest Facility in Santa Barbara Will Serve Homeless Young Adults

A Noozhawk story cited KidsData on the share of public school students who experience homelessness.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about child abuse and neglect and hospital use. See links to the latest here.

Posted by

Post Comment

Data Show Children of Color Are Systematically Denied Equitable Opportunities to Thrive

Number of California Students per 1,000 Suspended From School, by Race/Ethnicity,

Bar chart displays the number of California students per 1,000 suspended from school, by race and ethnicity, for the schools years 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Note: Data are for the school years 2018-19 and 2019-20.

For many decades, state and national data have shown that communities of color—particularly African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children and families—generally experience disproportionately poor outcomes across multiple domains of well-being. These domains include family economics, safety, school outcomes and experiences, mental and physical health, access to services, and more. KidsData now brings together data on these domains in a page dedicated to racial and ethnic equity to facilitate researchers, policymakers, and advocates’ easy access to the evidence.

Many leaders and organizations are working hard to improve outcomes for young people of color and some gaps have narrowed, but these inequities remain an urgent public health concern nationwide.

Why Do Racial/Ethnic Inequities Persist?

The social, economic, and environmental conditions that young people experience profoundly influence their health and well-being across the life course. Long-standing disparate outcomes for children and youth of color are a consequence of the poorer conditions they generally experience. Unequal conditions in turn reflect unequal distribution of power and resources among racial and ethnic groups, driven by structural racism and discriminatory practices embedded in our policies, institutions, and culture.

Data Drive Awareness and Action

Recognizing the importance of tracking disparities and supporting action to eliminate them, KidsData provides more than 150 measures broken down by race/ethnicity, along with explanatory context, evidence-based policy and program suggestions to help counteract disadvantage, and links to additional resources. We encourage you to put these data to work.

Spotlights From the Data:

  • African American/Black children are more likely than their white counterparts to have two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), according to a national survey from 2016 to 2020. In California, the share of African American/Black children with at least two ACEs is around double that of white children.
  • In California in 2018-2020, more than 1 in 5 African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino children lived on income below the Supplemental Poverty Measure threshold, compared with fewer than 1 in 12 of their white and multiracial peers.
  • Asian youth in California were more likely to have been bullied or harassed at school at least once in the previous year because of their race/ethnicity or national origin compared with students of other backgrounds, according to 2017-2019 data for grades 7, 9, 11, and non-traditional programs. Estimates of youth bullied often (four or more times) in the previous year due to race/ethnicity were highest for Asian and African American/Black students, at 9%.
  • Around 25% of Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native youth had high levels of developmental supports at school, compared with at least 30% for Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, African American/Black, and white students in grades 7, 9, and 11, and non-traditional programs in 2017-2019.
  • American Indian/Alaska Native youth were most likely to have been afraid of getting beaten up at school in the previous year, while African American/Black youth were most likely to feel unsafe or very unsafe at school, when compared with youth in other racial/ethnic groups in 2017-2019.
  • In 2021, rates of reading proficiency among California students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 were 60% or higher for Asian, Filipino, white, and multiracial students, and lower than 45% for African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander groups.
  • In California’s high school graduating class of 2020, the percentages of African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native students not completing high school (13% and 14%, respectively) were nearly double that for white students (7%) and more than three times that for Asian and Filipino students (4%).
  • In California, 8% of American Indian/Alaska Native children did not have health insurance coverage in 2018—more than twice the estimate for children in other racial/ethnic groups. The uninsured estimate for this population nationwide was even higher, at 13%.
  • California and U.S. infants born to African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander mothers have the lowest rates of timely prenatal care. The greatest burden of adverse birth outcomes, such as low birthweight and infant mortality, typically is experienced by African American/Black families.
  • The juvenile felony arrest rate for African American/Black youth in California has dropped dramatically in recent decades; yet, as of 2020, it remains almost 5 times higher than the arrest rate for Hispanic/Latino youth, and nearly 10 times that for white youth.
  • In 2017-2019, around one in five American Indian/Alaska Native, multiracial, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander youth in California seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous year, a larger share than their grade 9, 11, and non-traditional peers in other racial/ethnic groups.
  • African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children and young adults consistently have higher death rates than young people in other racial/ethnic groups, statewide and nationally. The rate of death due to firearms among California African American/Black youth in 2020 (25 per 100,000) was more than 4 times the rate for Hispanic/Latino youth, more than 7 times the rate for white youth, and over 16 times the rate for Asian youth.
How Can We Improve Outcomes for Young People of Color?

Policymakers and stakeholders in multiple sectors have a role in addressing disparities and ensuring that all children and families, regardless of race or ethnicity, have equitable opportunities to thrive. Eliminating these inequities will require increased investments in evidence-based policies and system-level changes. Examples include:

  • Ensure affordable, high-quality child care, health care, and health insurance are available to all families.
  • Increase access to affordable, culturally appropriate mental health care.
  • Provide safe, effective pre-K-12 schools with adequate support services in communities of color.
  • Continue to reform school disciplinary practices and the juvenile justice system to emphasize positive youth outcomes.

Promoting equity for children and families of color, including immigrant families, not only will improve children’s lives in the short-term but also can strengthen the next generation, creating significant, positive social and economic impacts for society. Use KidsData’s new racial and ethnic equity page to identify disparities and explore policy solutions.

Call for Input on Policies Contributing to Racial/Ethnic Health Inequities

A new National Academies committee is seeking input on federal policies that contribute to racial/ethnic health inequities and potential solutions, including lived experiences navigating federal programs and systems. Learn more and share your feedback.

KidsData in the News

Interact Clubs to Hold Mental Health Awareness Walk

A Tehachapi News story on youth mental health cited KidsData on youth suicide rates in Kern County.

Feeding America Riverside-San Bernardino Receives $60K Grant

A Patch article about a new grant to support nutrition programs cited KidsData on the share of students who participate in free and reduced-price school program meals.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about prenatal care. See links to the latest here.

Posted by

Post Comment

Webinar: Prevalence, Disparities, and Impacts of Child Maltreatment-Related Injuries During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Join us Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. PT for “Child Maltreatment-Related Injuries During the COVID-19 Pandemic in California,” a webinar hosted by the California Essentials for Childhood (EfC) Initiative and KidsData.

This webinar will highlight data on non-fatal child abuse and neglect injuries treated in California emergency departments and hospitals from 2016 to 2020. Presenters from EfC and KidsData will describe the frequency, severity, and demographics of child maltreatment-related injuries before and during the pandemic; show how to access the data; and share strategies and resources to support service providers, community coalitions, and others in their efforts to prevent child maltreatment and adverse childhood experiences.

Register now for the “Child Maltreatment-Related Injuries During the COVID-19 Pandemic in California” webinar. Upon registration, a calendar invitation with Zoom information will be emailed to you. If you have questions, please email

Posted by

Post Comment