Posts Tagged ‘New Data’

Child Welfare in California: A Slideshow of Key Findings

child welfare slideshowIn case you missed our recent advisory, now has updated child abuse and foster care data. To summarize some of the key findings, we’ve compiled a slideshow to tell the story of child abuse and foster care in California. You can view the slideshow at

A few key findings:

Check out the slideshow for more key findings with accompanying graphs, and please feel free to share with your colleagues.

Posted by Jordan Handcox


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Child Welfare in California: A Snapshot of Legislation

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and we’ve just updated child abuse and foster care data on — seems like the perfect time to check in on recently passed and upcoming child welfare legislation.

We’ve noted a few key bills below, and you can find more child welfare legislation passed into law in this report from the County Welfare Directors Association. And, if you know of other bills, please note them here.

Child Welfare Legislation Passed in 2010:

  • AB 12, introduced by Assemblymember Jim Beall (D-San Jose), is the California Fostering Connections to Success Act, which extends foster care to age 21 if the youth is working or enrolled in school full time.
  • AB 743, authored by Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge), strengthens state policy to keep siblings together in the foster care system.
  • AB 1933 from Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) allows foster children to remain in their school of origin, even if placed with a family in a different area.
  • AB 2322, authored by Assemblymember Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), helps county employees better identify instances of child abuse and neglect, helps social workers fashion plans of action for potentially abused children, and provides strict protection for the privacy of children and their families.

Proposed Child Welfare Legislation for 2011:

  • AB 73, from Assemblymember Feuer, would provide for public access to dependency court proceedings.
  • AB 181, authored by Assemblymember Portantino, would create a mental health bill of rights for foster youth.
  • AB 194, from Assemblymember Beall, would offer priority enrollment for foster youth in post-secondary education.

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Physical Fitness Data Released: 1/3 of CA Kids Score “Healthy”

As you may have seen in the news, the California Department of Education last week released ’09-’10 physical fitness data for school districts statewide. These data show that roughly one-third of public school students in California meet all six fitness standards. A summary of these data are available on the California Department of Education website. In the coming weeks, we’ll update our fitness and weight indicators on to include the ’09-’10 data, so that you can customize for your region, and view the data as trend graphs, bar charts, or maps. In the meantime, you can view historical data on

Here’s a summary of local coverage of fitness test results from around the state:

Contra Costa Times: Only One-Third of County Students Could Pass Physical Fitness Test

Inland Empire News: 2 of 3 Students Fail Fitness Test

KFMB-AM: San Diego Students Score Slightly Better in Fitness Tests Compared to State

LA Times: Only 1 in 3 California Students Make the Grade in Physical Fitness Test

Monterey County Herald: County Lags State in Youth Fitness

North County Times: Local Kids Beat State Averages for Fitness Tests

Redding Record-Searchlight: North State Students Slip in State Health Test

San Francisco Chronicle: Couch or Calisthenics?

Santa Cruz Sentinel: State Fitness Test Results Reveal Stubborn Plateau

SJ Mercury News: California Students Continue to Score Poorly on Fitness Tests

Have you seen other local coverage? Post it here.

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Poverty Linked to Wide Array of Child Health Issues, Parent Survey Shows

Newly updated data reveal that the percentage of California public school students eligible for free/reduced price meals rose from 51% in ’08 to 56% in ’10 — an increase of more than 281,000 children statewide. Eligibility for this program is widely viewed as a proxy measure for poverty.

As increasing numbers of children fall below the income level required to qualify for the program, it’s instructive to note data from our foundation’s 2010 California Parent Survey. The survey asked parents of 1,685 children how their child was faring across dozens of measures that address the whole terrain of childhood, from physical, emotional and behavioral health to school-related issues and family and societal influences. Parents’ responses highlight the many ways that poverty is connected to child health.

The parents of one-quarter of children said their family’s income was not adequate to meet their child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. The survey also showed that lower-income children have poorer health; lower quality health care; poorer emotional health; higher rates of depression; neighborhoods that are less safe; lower-quality schools, and less satisfactory child care arrangements (differences were statistically significant.)

These results conform with a substantial body of research that links poverty with long-term negative consequences for children. According to a 2009 Child Trends analysis of 10 studies, poor children are more likely than children from more affluent families to have low academic achievement, to drop out of school, and to have health, behavioral, and emotional problems. As the Child Trends report notes, “these linkages are particularly strong for children whose families experience deep poverty, who are poor during early childhood, and who are trapped in poverty for a long time.”

For policy implications related to child poverty, see the Child Trends report.

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A Closer Look at the Growth in Autism Diagnoses

A few years ago, we published an issue brief, “Autism Diagnoses on the Rise,” that explored the steep climb in autism diagnoses across California. So what does the trend look like these days? About the same, it turns out. Newly released data from the California Department of Education show that the growth in special education students diagnosed with autism continues unabated, from roughly 17,500 California public school students in 2002 to nearly 60,000 in 2010.

As you dig deeper, however, some other trends emerge. First, while students with autism comprise a greater share of all special education students in California compared to roughly a decade ago (from about 3% of all special education students in ’02 to about 9% in ’10), numbers are on the rise for another diagnosis, too — “other health impairment.” The California Department of Education defines this as “having limited strength, vitality or alertness, due to chronic or acute health problems, such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, or diabetes.” Meanwhile, the percent of special education students diagnosed with a learning disability has dropped considerably, from 52% of all special education students in 2002 to 42% in 2010.

This Google animation, which uses data from indicators, shows the relative growth/decrease in special education enrollments by the three conditions noted above. First click on the bar graph icon in the top-right, then press play in the bottom left. 

We encourage our readers to provide some perspective on these trends. We do know that research shows that federal and state finance reform may be contributing to declining learning disability rates in California (and across the nation). As for autism, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that whether the increases are “attributable to a true increase in the risk for developing ASD [autism spectrum disorders] symptoms or solely to changes in community awareness and identification patterns is not known.” Comments from users like you can help us illuminate what’s going on both locally and statewide, and provide broader perspective on the growth in autism diagnoses.

Posted by Andy Krackov

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Demographic Data Show Make-Up of California’s Children

Several measures of demographic data recently were updated on These data, which come to us from the American Community Survey, are important because they show trends in child population, racial/ethnic breakdowns and family structure that can help project potential needs for education, child care, health care, and other services for children.

Data Updates for Regions with 250,000 Residents or More:

Here are some interesting highlights of the data:

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What Our New Truancy, Suspensions and Expulsions Data Don’t Tell Us

The truancy, suspensions, and expulsions data we just added to offer perspective on an important topic related to children’s well being. Research has shown, for example, that truancy, which is defined as missing more than 30 minutes of instruction without an excuse three or more times during a school year, is linked to academic failure, dropping out, substance abuse, gang involvement, and criminal activity (more info). In addition, there are high costs associated with truancy. Not only does truancy diminish revenue for schools due to lower daily attendance, it also contributes to costs related to delinquent behavior.

Likewise, our understanding of the effects of expulsions and suspensions is key. Excluding students from school by relying too heavily on suspensions or expulsions as a disciplinary strategy can exacerbate problems such as poor academic achievement, high dropout rates, and students’ involvement in the juvenile justice system.

On, we offer the data that are publicly available from the California Department of Education – the number and percent/rate of expulsions, suspensions, and truancies for school districts and counties statewide. It’s a wealth of data, yet we need more data – in particular, better breakdowns. Some examples:

  • There is growing concern about truancy in elementary schools, but data are not available by grade level or age, making it difficult to understand the extent of the problem in California. Related to this, data on chronic absences, which may or may not be excused, would help us further clarify our understanding about this issue.
  • Similarly, other demographic breakdowns (e.g. socio-economic status, race/ethnicity) are not publicly available, so it’s challenging for officials to accurately identify students that need additional support.
  • There is debate now on using suspensions and expulsions as part of a strategy to combat bullying. However, we don’t have data that give us detailed reasons students are expelled or suspended. Are more California students today being suspended or expelled because of bullying? We simply don’t know.

These are critical data gaps that we hope can be addressed in the coming years, but they shouldn’t prevent us from using what’s available now. At, our hope is that policymakers and others will begin to acquaint themselves with these just-published indicators, and use these data in their work by bringing attention to these issues, stimulating discussions, deepening our understanding of what’s going on and overall helping to inform decisions that are made. By using these data, we’ll all better understand, too, the limitations of what’s available, thus putting us in an even better position to advocate for improved data on these important issues.

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New Data About Very Low Birthweight Added to

Data about prenatal care and low birthweight were updated on this week, and a new measure of infant health — infants born at very low birthweight — was added.

Very low birthweight infants are those born at less than 1,500 grams; or about 3.3 pounds. Placer, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma are among the counties with the lowest percentages of infants born at very low birthweight. Overall in California, 1.2% of infants were born at very low birthweight in 2009.

Low birthweight babies account for a higher percentage of infants — those born at less than 2,500 grams, or 5 pounds, 5 ounces. In most counties, the percentage of babies born at a low birthweight in 2009 was lower than the state average of 7%. However, in Los Angeles County, as well as some other populous counties, the rate was slightly higher than in California as a whole. Low birthweight babies face six to 10 times the risk of infant mortality, and are at increased risk of long-term disabilities.

The data about prenatal care refer to the percentage of infants whose mothers received prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy, and offers 15 years of data, making it easy to pinpoint trends over time. In 2009, the percentage of mothers receiving prenatal care inched up slightly to 81%,  after four years of decline.

Posted by Felicity Simmons


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Now Available on Kidsdata: More Data About Kids with Special Needs

View a slideshow of data highlights from Children with Special Health Care Needs: A Profile of Key Issues in California has just added wide-ranging data — dozens of measures in all — on the approximately 1.4 million children in California who have a special health care need.

These new indicators are drawn in part from a just released study which found that California ranks at or near the bottom compared to other states on multiple  measures of how well these children are faring. The report, Children with Special  Health Care Needs: A Profile of Key Issues in California, was commissioned by our  foundation and prepared by the Child and  Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative.

On, we now offer more than 80 measures of the health and well being of children with special health care needs at the state level with a U.S. comparison. These data include:

And some data related to children with special needs are available at a local level:

In an effort to bring together those working on issues affecting children with special health care needs, the foundation is establishing the California Collaborative for Children with Special Health Care Needs. The goal of the collaborative is to create a shared agenda and advocate for meaningful and lasting system change — including improving over the long-term measures of how these children are faring. Sign up to be a part of this work >>

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California’s Data Wish List

Want to learn more about what has to offer? Watch This Video

Recently, we announced the data we’re planning to add to in 2011 — obesity, truancy, preterm births, and more. (See the full list.) These additions are the result of conversations we’ve had with individuals across the state. We also asked users to suggest topics they’d like to see on the site. We thought others would be interested in seeing the suggestions we received, which included:

  • Sex education programs in schools
  • Special education enrollment for preschool-age children
  • Undocumented youth not attending school and not working
  • Children who qualify for dental care with Medi-Cal, but don’t know how to access services
  • Pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes
  • Children whose parents are incarcerated
  • Comparisons of California to national data

Here at kidsdata, we’ll certainly consider these suggestions by adding them to our data wish list. Of course, sometimes there is no source that collects data in a uniform way for some of these topics.

Do you know of data sources for the suggestions above? Do you have other topics to add to this list? Please keep the suggestions coming; we’re listening.

Posted by Jordan Handcox


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