Over Half of California Students are High-Need

High-Need Students in California, 2019

In California, 63% of students were considered high-need in 2019, meaning they were eligible for free or reduced price school meals, were English Learners, or were foster youth. School districts varied widely in the percentage of students with high-need, from less than 3% to more than 99% among districts with data. Looking further into understanding high-needs students, more than 59% of California school children – over 3.5 million students – were eligible for free or reduced price school meals (FRPM) in 2020, up from 51% in 2007. Not only are students eligible for FRPM based on family income, but also if they participate in the CalFresh or CalWORKS programs, are eligible for the Migrant Education Program, are homeless, or are foster youth.

The indicator describing high-need students is a part of a new topic on kidsdata.org, Student Demographics. The new topic was created to celebrate student diversity in California and increase our understanding of diversity in terms of race/ethnicity, family economics, and more. Student demographic trends are useful for assessing needs and planning school and community services, and ultimately, they play an important role in informing policies and practices that address intransigent inequities. The topic, Student Demographics, combines relevant indicators previously under other topics as well as two new indicators: high-need students and students eligible for the migrant education program.

Student Demographics Resource

Getting Down to Facts II describes the challenges and the promising efforts to achieving California’s vision of providing an equitable public education.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about Student Demographics and Characteristics of Children with Special Needs. See links to the latest here.

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Demographic Data on California Children

The Kidsdata team just released data on child demographics with 35 updated indicators. Find data on births, child populations, and projected child populations to 2060 in California. Data are broken down by age group, gender, and race/ethnicity. Additional county and school-district level student data are available by parent education level and sexual orientation and for transgender students.

Below data figures, you will find a section titled, “Learn More About.” In this section, see “Measures of Demographics on Kidsdata.org” for a summary of the indicators and data sources that describe California’s child population.

Demographics Resources

The US Census Bureau summarizes research on the long-standing undercount of young children in decennial censuses including which children have highest risk of coverage errors and what steps the Census Bureau has taken to improve the count in the 2020 Census.

In a previous Kidsdata News, Beth Jarosz from Population Reference Bureau explains how population projections can help inform policies and programs that support children’s health and well-being.

Children’s Health Resources

Child Trends explores challenges in Supporting Families and Child Care Providers during the Pandemic with a Focus on Equity and offers strategies to address families’ and providers’ unique needs.

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health continually updates a curated list of COVID-19 Resources for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

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New Data on School Suspensions Highlight Educational Inequities

Students Suspended from School, by Foster Youth Status: 2018-2019

Image of a bar chart representing students suspended from school, by foster youth status

Kidsdata.org recently released new data on school suspension and expulsion rates. Compare rates for foster youth, homeless students, and economically disadvantaged students as well as by disability status and by race/ethnicity.

In California public schools, 35 students for every 1,000 were suspended in 2019. Foster youth, in particular, experienced high rates of suspension. In 2018-2019, 152 per 1,000 foster youth were suspended from California schools compared with 34 per 1,000 among non-foster youth.

While foster youth were suspended at almost five times the rate of other students, some student groups were suspended at about double the rate.

For every 1,000 students,

For these student groups, being subjected to higher suspension rates than their peers represents another example of inequity among our youth. Suspensions, expulsions, and frequent absences for any reason are linked to lower test scores, higher dropout rates, and more frequent entries into the juvenile justice system, all of which can have lifelong effects on employment and earning potential. Recent California legislation provides momentum in a positive direction by restricting out-of-school suspensions, a change that should decrease rates and address educational inequities.

Educational Equity Resources

The Civil Rights Project at UCLA asks, Is California Doing Enough to Close the School Discipline Gap? A trend analysis showed that disparities in suspension rates have narrowed but remain in recent years.

A guidebook, Building Educational Equity Indicator Systems by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, helps state and school district leaders develop ways of tracking educational equity within their Pre-K – 12 systems.

Children’s Health Resources

The Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development – Early Childhood (RAPID-EC), a nationally representative longitudinal survey conducted by the University of Oregon’s Center for Translational Neuroscience, addresses the role of caregiver emotional support in buffering children in their latest report, How Long Can the Levee Hold?

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health continually updates a curated list of COVID-19 Resources for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

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The Digital Divide

California Children Living in Households with a Broadband-Connected Device by School District: 2014-2018

Image of bar chart displaying California Children Living in Households with a Broadband-Connected Device by School District: 2014-2018
As the school year begins, access to technology, including suitable devices for schoolwork and a sufficient broadband internet connection, is both a requirement for effective learning and a source of division in this new mode of mass education. Educational inequities become more acute when some children lack a dedicated device or have an inadequate internet connection. This digital divide compounds inequities and may have long-term consequences on educational outcomes.

Kidsdata.org now offers data on access to broadband-connected devices under the recently updated Housing Affordability and Resources topic. Access to technology varies greatly across California school districts. In districts with data, as few as 60% of children ages 0-17 live in households connected to high-speed internet through a desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other computer, in 2014-2018.

Access in California also varies by demographic characteristics. In 2018,

Efforts are underway to address students’ technology needs. Some districts are providing laptops and internet hotspots for students. Furthermore, The California Bridging the Digital Divide Fund, a joint effort of the Governor’s Office, State Board of Education, California Department of Education, and Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, offers a centralized set of resources to address the digital divide. These and other approaches to increase access to technology for all children can contribute to equity in education.

Digital Divide Resources

California Parent Poll: COVID-19 and School Closures reported that 41% of parents felt they did not have enough devices in the home in late March 2020 and 29% lacked reliable internet access. This survey was conducted by Ed Trust-West.

California’s Digital Divide reported that 16% of school-aged children had no internet connection at home in 2017. This survey was conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, 2019 reported that 73% of lower-income families in the United States with 8 to 18-year-old children had computers compared with 94% of higher-income families. This survey was conducted by Common Sense Media.

Children’s Health Resources

How the Pandemic is Affecting Every Aspect of Children’s Lives, by Children Now, shares findings and the steps California must take to address the complex needs of children and families.

Coping with Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic, available on ACEs Connection, shares resources and information on ways Californians can take care of themselves and their families during the pandemic.

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health continually updates a curated list of COVID-19 Resources for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about Housing Affordability and Resources, Math and Reading Proficiency, and School Attendance and Discipline. See links to the latest here.

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Two Quick Tips for Kidsdata.org

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With 57 topics and 600 indicators, exploring the data on kidsdata.org may seem daunting. We offer two tips on understanding the website’s contents and streamlining how you are informed about the latest data that are important to you.

Topic Overview: A PDF resource summarizing the categories, topics, breakdowns, and timeframes available on the site.

Data Alerts: A method to receive email notifications when data that match your specific interests are released on the site. You can customize alerts for specific topics, geographic areas, and demographic groups that best support your work.

We’re here to help! Send your questions or suggestions about kidsdata.org to kidsdata@lpfch.org.

 

Resources on Children’s Health Equity

Maternal and Child Health Inequities Emerge Even Before Birth, a report from Zero to Three and Child Trends, finds serious racial and ethnic disparities in infant and maternal health care and health outcomes across the country.

Confronting Structural Racism in Research and Policy Analysis, a report by the Urban Institute, shares tools, strategies, and challenges for implementing institutional change based on insights from policy research, academia, and philanthropy.

Diversitydatakids.org provides data, a Child Opportunity Index, and a Policy Equity Assessment for a diverse and equitable future.

 

COVID-19 Resources on Children

The CDC offers guidelines on keeping children healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak such as helping children stay socially connected and reinforcing preventive actions.

ACEs Connection collates resources about parenting with ACEs in a pandemic, including four topic-specific lists related to COVID-19 and ACEs Science.

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health continually updates a curated list of COVID-19 Resources for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

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Data Tell a Powerful Story about Racial Inequities

Dear Kidsdata Community,

The appalling deaths of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other victims of racism have caused immense pain for communities across the country, for all of us at the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, and for our colleagues in the Stanford Medicine community. Our country’s longstanding and deeply embedded racial bias, injustice, and discrimination stand in direct contrast to our values and mission to improve health for children, moms, and families. Yet, every day we see the disparities in health outcomes for Black children and communities of color.

We recognize at the Foundation and through Kidsdata that we have a powerful and privileged position to use data and resources to practice anti-racism and inspire change. We look forward to sharing our next steps in the coming weeks, and we welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Please send your ideas to info@lpfch.org.

 

Infant Mortality Rate: 2012-2016

Data expose the consequences of racial injustice. But, data do not produce change. It’s you and I who must make the change. We wield data to expose the inequities and stoke the passion for transformation. We draw on data to help us remake policies and institutions to eradicate racist behaviors, practices, and violence.

Black children, from birth to young adulthood, experience the burden of systemic and institutionalized racism in health care, education, juvenile justice, and other social institutions. In California, persistent disparity has gone on for far too long, and the data continue to show us areas to prioritize in children’s health and well-being.

Infancy

  • Black infants are less likely to be born to mothers who had received prenatal care than white infants (79% versus 88%)
  • Black mothers who recently gave birth are more likely to report that they had four or more hardships in their youth than white mothers (12% versus 9%)
  • Black infants are more likely to die than white infants (10 per 1,000 infants versus 4 per 1,000)

Adolescence and Transition to Adulthood

  • Black students are less likely to graduate from high school than white youth (73% versus 87%)
  • Black students are less likely to complete college preparatory courses than their white peers (36% versus 52%)
  • Black youth ages 10 to 17 are more likely to be arrested than white youth (20 per 1,000 versus 2 per 1,000)

Safety, Violence, and Death

  • Black students in 7th, 9th, and 11th grade and non-traditional programs feel more unsafe at school than their white peers (12% versus 6%)
  • Black babies and youth ages one to 24 are more likely to die than white youth (59 per 100,000 versus 31 per 100,000)
  • The leading cause of death among Black youth ages one to 24 is homicide which is 10 times the rate for white youth (21 per 100,000 versus 2 per 100,000)

Leveraging data and remaking policies and institutions would mean that more Black infants, children, and youth will live, Black children will feel safe, and Black young adults will have opportunity through education to become healthy, economically secure adults. At Kidsdata, we will continue to provide data that expose inequity and bring the most egregious findings to your attention. Please use them to transform our policies and institutions.

Summary and Fact Sheet Describing African American/Black Children in California »

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about high school graduation and college eligibility. See links to the latest here.

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A Collective Impact Approach to Prevent and Reduce Childhood Adversity in California

Children as friends celebrate children's birthday in the summer with colorful pinwheels

Adverse childhood experiences, such as poverty or mental illness of a family member, can lead to harmful health outcomes. However, effective policies and programs can prevent, nudge or even dramatically shift a child’s trajectory toward a brighter future. Guest author, Elena Costa, from the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch of the California Department of Public Health, introduces you to a collaborative approach to address childhood adversity in California.

The California Essentials for Childhood (EfC) Initiative is a statewide initiative that utilizes a collective impact model to address child maltreatment and prevent and reduce childhood adversity. This important work is led through a partnership with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Injury and Violence Prevention (IVP) Branch, and the California Department of Social Service (CDSS), Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP).

The EfC Initiative supports and participates in mutually reinforcing activities and strategies across multiple agencies and stakeholders to optimize the health and wellbeing of California’s children. In its second cycle of funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this project seeks to:

  • Prevent and reduce child maltreatment through a public health approach
  • Raise awareness and commitment to promoting safe, stable, nurturing relationships, and environments (SSNR&E)
  • Create the context for healthy children and families through social norms change, programs, and policies
  • Utilize data to inform actions

The EfC Initiative engages 70 organizations and more than 130 stakeholders in a statewide coalition and supports five, topic specific, subcommittees (i.e., Data, Policy, Strengthening Economic Supports, and Trauma-Informed Practices) to define where there are opportunities to realize the Initiative’s vision that all California children, youth, and families thrive in safe, stable, nurturing relationships where they live, work, and play.

A critical component to the EfC Initiative’s efforts to identify and undertake mutually reinforcing activities is improving access to data that tells the story of childhood adversity as well as cultivating partnerships. Collaboration with programs, such as Kidsdata, ensures that the solutions proposed are based in data and need as well as the guidance given by subject matter experts.

Join us in defining solutions to address childhood adversity. You can learn more about the program by visiting the EfC’s Initiative webpage or contact me directly: elena.costa@cdph.ca.gov.

COVID-19 Resources on Children

During this difficult time, Kidsdata continues to work on behalf of children and families. If you have resources about children and COVID-19 to share, please contact us at kidsdata@lpfch.org. We have included a few selected resources below.

10 Ways to Avoid ACEs, from Tufts Medical Center, provides guidance for parents, providers, and community members to prevent ACEs during COVID-19. Grounded in HOPE – Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences – this resource offers a new way of seeing and talking about experiences that support children’s growth and development into healthy, resilient adults.

Road to Resilience: Raising Healthy Kids, from the Mayo Clinic, offers a virtual self-paced program to reduce the effects of adverse childhood experiences. It includes videos and activities directed toward young children, tweens, and teens, as well as the adults who care for them.

COVID-19: Mapping vulnerable populations in California, from the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, identifies California regions most in need of resources and support. The maps can assist nonprofits, government agencies, and health organizations that are developing plans to allocate resources or are working on the ground to reach particular groups.

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health continually updates a curated list of COVID-19 Resources for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

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New Childhood Adversity Data and Dashboards

Image of Childhood Adversity and Resilience flier

New and updated data describing childhood adversity and resilience are now available on kidsdata.org. The data cover more counties than previously offered and provide greater detail on childhood adversity. Also, in partnership with the Essentials for Childhood Initiative, you can now access data dashboards for every county in California.

Adversity and Resilience Data
See the latest parent reported data on childhood adversity and resilience in California. Based on the National Survey of Children’s Health, 38% of California children had at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) during 2016-2018, and almost 4% had four or more ACEs. This measure includes nine types of ACEs. Statewide, the largest percentage of children experienced economic hardship or parent divorce (18% to 21%), but 7% were exposed to alcohol or drug abuse in the household and 5% had a family member with mental illness. County-level data show that the percentage of children experiencing two or more ACEs varied widely in 2016-2018, from 8% in San Mateo County to 30% in Humboldt County.

Child Adversity and Well-Being Dashboards
Access adversity and well-being dashboards for California and for all counties on ACEs Connection. These dashboards are a compelling way to tell a story of child adversity, health, and well-being using key data findings. They describe periods across the child life course, from pregnancy and birth, through early/middle childhood and adolescence. Every county’s dashboards are customized based on available data to ensure that all parts of California have equivalent information to address childhood adversity and promote protective factors. Partners across sectors can use dashboards to support decision-making and promote action to maximize health and well-being for babies, children, and youth.

These dashboards are a product of the Essentials for Childhood Initiative (EfC), a CDC-funded child maltreatment prevention project hosted by the California Departments of Public Health and Social Services.

 

Additional Resources on Adversity and Resilience

ACEs Aware, an initiative led by the Office of the California Surgeon General and the Department of Health Care Services, shares a toolkit that describes ACEs science and provides guidance on how to screen for and respond to ACEs.

For a framework that promotes positive childhood experiences, read Responding to ACEs with HOPE: Health Outcomes from Positive Experiences.

 

COVID-19 Resources on Children

During this difficult time, Kidsdata continues to work on behalf of children and families. If you have resources about children and COVID-19 to share, please contact us at kidsdata@lpfch.org. We have included a few selected resources below.

Coronavirus in Kids (COVKID) Tracking and Education Project, by The Women’s Institute for Independent Social Enquiry, compiles epidemiologic surveillance data on COVID-19 in children and teens to present timely data for clinicians, public health practitioners, policymakers, elected officials, and journalists.

A Guide to COVID-19 and Early Childhood Development, from the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, pulls together resources that can help parents, caregivers, child care providers, pediatricians, and others who work with families.

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health continually updates a curated list of COVID-19 Resources for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

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How COVID-19 Impacts Children’s Mental Health

Hospitalizations for Mental Health Issues Among California Children and Youth, by Age Group: 2002 to 2018

Trend Line for Hospitalizations for Mental Health Issues Among California Children and Youth, by Age Group: 2002 to 2018

In this issue of Kidsdata News, we will explore how data and research could provide guidance for the COVID-19 response to the mental health impact on youth.

Mental health among children and youth is already a concern. In 2018, there were 41,087 hospital discharges for mental health issues among California youth ages 5-19, a 38% increase in the last decade. With the emergence of COVID-19, children with existing mental health issues must endure the added burden of a pandemic. Children often rely on schools to provide mental health services, but school closures have made it difficult to access and preserve the quality of these services. Historical research on the effects of pandemics on children’s mental health is limited, but current analyses on the impact of COVID-19, in the U.S. and across the world, can help inform best practices for promoting resilience among children facing adversity.

Mental health supports at school
Due to the public health crisis, educators have had to close their doors and open their laptops, forcing children to adapt to new ways of learning and accessing needed services. Having to relate to teachers, friends, and school staff solely through virtual means may be especially challenging for some students. Distance learning and social isolation because of COVID-19 may worsen existing mental health issues and lead to more mental health cases among children.

Public health experts are particularly concerned for children living with an abusive or substance-dependent guardian. Children growing-up in unsafe homes may view school campuses as dependable, trusted hubs of social support that offer a safe space. While pediatric mental health specialty services may be available in the community, most children who need treatment do not receive it. To bridge the gap, schools play an important role in identifying mental health issues and providing supportive services. Now more than ever, students facing adverse experiences at home, compounded by the consequences of COVID-19, need access to quality mental health services to protect their emotional well-being.

How children are faring outside the U.S.
We don’t yet know the extent of COVID-19’s mental health impact on youth. However, lessons learned from analyzing the impact of shelter-in-place orders instituted in other countries could light the way to how we can best prepare for the future outcomes of our current situation.

Researchers in the UK carried out a survey among youth with existing mental health issues to assess how the pandemic and the subsequent restrictions are affecting them. Although the students understood the need for restrictions like school closures, many reported increased anxiety, problems with sleep, and panic attacks as a result. Key findings indicated 51% of students agreed that the pandemic had made their mental health a bit worse, and 32% agreed it made it much worse. When asked which activities were most helpful for their mental health, the more popular responses were face-to-face calls with friends, watching TV, exercise, and learning new skills. Encouraging youth to participate in these positive activities could help mitigate the added emotional health impacts on youth in the U.S.

In China, research on the mental health effects of school closures during COVID-19 emphasize the need to protect children living in unsafe homes. Researchers found that social distancing measures possibly had a harmful effect on children living in an abusive home, and likely exacerbated abuse during this time of economic uncertainty and stress. In parts of China, reports of domestic violence more than tripled, and increased rates of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation were also reported. China’s cautionary tale leads us to wonder how we can prevent similar adverse outcomes and provide opportunities for resilience for at-risk children.

A data-driven approach to resilience
We must safeguard our children’s long-term health by looking at the best data-driven practices for promoting resilience among children facing adversity. The more a child feels connected and supported, the more likely they are to have better long-term emotional health. Beyond support, communities have a shared responsibility to nurture sound mental health practices in children and youth for them to develop effective coping skills and adapt in the face of unexpected challenges.

Having safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments within the family, community, and at school are critical. School staff may not be able to support their students in-person, but by maintaining their consistent, caring relationships online, they can strengthen children’s resilience against adversity.

Concern for our children’s mental health has only increased since the start of the pandemic, putting a strain on school mental health supports. If students cannot rely on quality mental health services from schools, then we must ensure children receive appropriate care and support in our homes and communities. Timely, yet limited data show COVID-19 is already impacting our children’s mental health, but it is up to us to define to what extent it affects their long-term health and well-being.

Additional Resources

Rock Results provides a tool designed to support teachers, counselors and others who might have contact with children and youth isolated at home during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Child Mind Institute shares tips and resources on managing anxiety and dealing with loss for families struggling with mental health issues at home due to COVID-19.

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Safeguards for Youth and Responding to COVID-19

A note from Lori Turk-Bicakci, Ph.D., Director, Kidsdata Program.

Working with data has been my world for years. Stories unfold through data, and I take comfort in knowing that some of these stories are powerful enough to be a linchpin for change. As a result of COVID-19, some health and well-being trend lines will pivot in previously unimaginable ways. I am committed to bending these impending pivots to benefit children. I do this through data, but we all contribute in our own way.

As your organization responds to COVID-19, you might find our Safeguards for Youth information helpful. Our dedicated webpage is a compilation of the latest data on protective factors and supportive services for the state’s children. The data are continually updated and the page includes:

  • Links to indicators of protective factors that describe preventive health care, a strong start in education, and a nurturing school community.
  • Links to indicators of supportive services including those that address health challenges, abuse, and family poverty.
  • Recording of our Safeguards for Youth briefing on adopting a prevention mind-set and using trauma-informed practices.
  • New: A series of six data focus briefs on topics recently highlighted in Kidsdata News.

I would like to suggest using Safeguards for Youth data to help anticipate and address the pandemic’s long-term impact on California children by assessing intransigent gaps in protections and services. For example:

  • Health insurance promotes preventive care and early intervention on health issues. Hispanic/Latino children and American Indian/Alaskan Native children have historically lacked health insurance at higher rates than most other race/ethnic groups of children. Hispanic/Latino children ages 0-17 also make up the largest share of COVID-19 cases compared with other race/ethnic groups.

    What new approaches could be taken to ensure that the children in these populations are adequately protected with health insurance?

  • Children’s usual source of health care might change as a result of COVID-19. Over the last couple of decades, just over 60% of children usually went to a doctor’s office or HMO when faced with a health issue, and about 25% went to a clinic or hospital.

    With an increase in telehealth and other unforeseen consequences, will this pattern of health care utilization change for children? What does it mean for your community?

A third example will be highlighted in the next issue of Kidsdata News. We will explore how data and past research could provide guidance for the COVID-19 response on the issue of mental health among youth.

As you work with data to inform your response to COVID-19, please feel free to reach out to me with questions or comments. Through our collective efforts, I believe our approach to addressing children’s health and well-being will strengthen with a sharpened focus as we find new ways to relate to each other and to children. Almost all parts of society are in a shake-up, and my hope is that from it, the best parts of who we are and what we do will emerge and flourish.

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