Racial and Ethnic Equity

photo of child drawing figures of various races and ethnicities with coloring pencils

Race is a human invention. Our arbitrary divisions among people, historical practices, and social attitudes have given rise to structures that systematically deprive children, families, and communities of opportunity and overburden them with poor health. It is our collective responsibility to remove these barriers through evidence-based policies, programs, and decision-making.

Systems and Outcomes

Data provide the foundation for addressing persistent racial and ethnic disparities. KidsData tracks and analyzes health and well-being trends related to systems and outcomes. System measures, such as school climate, point to the drivers of inequity and the paths to policy and programmatic change [1]. Outcome measures, such as childhood cancer survival, illustrate the magnitude of health disparities and identify the populations most severely impacted.

Follow the links below to find the latest data and evidence-based policy solutions to help reduce or eliminate gaps.

Selected System Measures


The effects of poverty on children's health begin before birth, as low-income parents are more likely to experience malnutrition and stress during pregnancy and are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care. Children who face early economic hardship or deep and prolonged poverty are at increased risk for adverse cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical health outcomes lasting into adulthood. In California, rates of poverty tend to be highest among African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino children.

What actions can help address child poverty? Reduce administrative barriers to participation in safety net programs, maintain and extend family eligibility for tax credits, regardless of employment or documentation status, and ensure access to affordable, high-quality child care and parental work supports. Read more.

Prenatal Care

High-quality health care before, during, and after pregnancy promotes the long-term health of both parent and child. In particular, receipt of prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy is critical, as it lowers the risk of adverse birth outcomes. Inequities in access to prenatal care by race and ethnicity have persisted for decades, with the greatest burden of poor maternal and infant outcomes experienced by African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native families.

What are some ways to improve timely access to quality prenatal care? Recruit health care professionals from diverse communities, address practitioner bias, and promote evidence-based prenatal care programs and initiatives, such as group care models and mental health service integration. Read more.

Broadband Access

Affordable housing, adequate household resources, and access to quality opportunities influence life outcomes at all ages. Access to high-speed internet at home is increasingly critical for education, employment, health care, social connections, and other important needs and services. Statewide and nationally, Hispanic/Latino, African American/Black, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native children are less likely to live in households with a broadband-connected device compared with children in other groups.

How can we better ensure that high-speed internet is accessible and affordable for all households? Support and expand public-private initiatives like the California Bridging the Digital Divide Fund, and promote federal solutions such as congressional action to improve the LifeLine Program. Read more.

Suspensions and Expulsions

Students who are suspended or expelled from school are more likely than their peers to have academic problems, drop out, and enter the juvenile justice system, which can have lifelong effects on employment and earning potential. Disciplinary removal from school generally does not result in safer schools or better student behavior, and it disproportionately affects children of color, particularly African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native students.

What can be done to keep students in school and provide them with the support they need to succeed? Improve school climate, adopt culturally sensitive and prevention-oriented discipline policies, and implement non-punitive, restorative interventions that are clear, fair, and consistent. Read more.


Selected Outcome Measures

Low Birthweight

Infants born with low birthweight face increased risks for wide-ranging health complications and long-term disabilities, including but not limited to developmental delays, heart disease, and problems with vision, breathing, and hearing. Decades of research have shown large inequities in birth outcomes by race/ethnicity, even after controlling for income, with rates of low birthweight, preterm birth, and infant mortality consistently higher for African American/Black populations than for other groups.

What actions can contribute to reducing risk factors for preterm and low-birthweight deliveries? Advance efforts to incorporate pre-conception care into routine health care, sustain funding for screening and treatment of patients at risk for preterm birth, and maintain and expand evidence-based social support programs for expectant parents, including home-visiting services. Read more.

Reading Proficiency

Students proficient in reading are more likely to graduate from high school, go to college, and have better employment and income prospects in adulthood than students with limited reading abilities, who often struggle to keep up across multiple subjects, including math and science. Higher percentages of Asian, Filipino, white, and multiracial students in California meet grade-level standards in English language arts than do their African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander peers.

How can we increase reading proficiency and lay the foundation for achievement in school, work, and life? Expand high-quality preschool and kindergarten-readiness programs, ensure that recent K-12 reforms are implemented effectively at the local level, and improve student access to qualified teachers and rigorous, relevant instructional materials. Read more.

High School Graduation

Graduating from high school is associated with a range of positive life outcomes, from better employment and income prospects to better health and life expectancy. Although California's graduation rate is on the rise and gaps by race/ethnicity have narrowed in recent years, rates still are lowest for African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students.

What are some of the ways we can drive improvements in graduation rates? Advance policies and practices focused on early identification of students who are struggling, provide tailored support and engagement with high-quality post-secondary education and workforce opportunities, and promote evidence-based strategies to foster student, family, school, and community strengths. Read more.


For many years, African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native young people have had the highest death rates among groups for whom data are collected, statewide and nationally. High youth death rates are related to problems that go beyond the individual, such as community violence and barriers to health care. Most child and young adult deaths are due to preventable causes, which can be addressed through public policies aimed at prevention, education, and supporting young people and their families.

What steps can we take to ensure more young people live longer? Strengthen motor vehicle and firearm safety measures; reduce violence, substance use, and other risky behaviors through improved connectedness to family and school; and ensure all families have access to timely, comprehensive, continuous, patient centered, and culturally appropriate medical care and mental health services. Read more.

Go deeper on other issues with recent analysis.

Indicators Broken Down by Race/Ethnicity

System Indicators by Race/Ethnicity
  • Highest Level of Parent Education

  • Family Structure
  • Youth Housing Situation

  • Family Income and Poverty
  • Children in Poverty – Official Poverty Measure
  • Children in Poverty – Supplemental Poverty Measure
  • Children in Poverty – California Poverty Measure
  • Children in Deep Poverty – California Poverty Measure

  • Food Security
  • Households Participating in CalFresh

  • Housing Affordability and Resources
  • Children Living in Households with a Broadband-Connected Device

  • Foster Care
  • First Entries into Foster Care
  • Children in Foster Care

  • Health Care
  • Health Insurance Coverage Status
  • Medicaid (Medi-Cal) or Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Coverage
  • Medi-Cal Average Monthly Enrollment
  • Usual Source of Health Care

  • Prenatal Care
  • Births to Mothers Receiving First Trimester Prenatal Care

  • Early Care and Education
  • Children Ages 3-5 Enrolled in Preschool or Kindergarten

  • Student Demographics
  • Special Education Enrollment

  • School Climate
  • Academic Motivation
  • School Connectedness
  • School Supports
  • Caring Relationships with Adults at School
  • High Expectations from Adults at School
  • Meaningful Participation at School

  • Bullying and Harassment at School
  • Bullying/Harassment
  • Bias-Related Bullying/Harassment
  • Disability as Reason for Bullying/Harassment
  • Gender as Reason for Bullying/Harassment
  • Race/Ethnicity or National Origin as Reason for Bullying/Harassment
  • Religion as Reason for Bullying/Harassment
  • Sexual Orientation as Reason for Bullying/Harassment
  • Cyberbullying

  • Gang Involvement
  • Gang Membership

  • School Safety
  • Perceptions of School Safety
  • Fear of Being Beaten Up at School
  • Physical Fighting at School
  • Carrying a Gun at School
  • Carrying a Weapon Other Than a Gun at School

  • School Attendance and Discipline
  • Students Suspended from School
  • Students Expelled from School
  • Reasons for School Absence in Past Month
  • Truancy

  • Juvenile Arrests
  • Juvenile Felony Arrest Rate
  • Juvenile Felony Arrests

  • Family Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Change in Race/Ethnicity Discrimination Against Caregiver During Pandemic
  • Change in Sexual Orientation Discrimination Against Caregiver During Pandemic
  • Current Use of Social Safety Net Resources
  • Any Use of Social Safety Net Resources Before and During Pandemic
  • Any Use of CalFresh Before and During Pandemic
  • Any Use of Food Bank Services Before and During Pandemic
  • Any Use of Free or Reduced Price School Meals Before and During Pandemic
  • Any Use of Public Health Insurance Before and During Pandemic
  • Any Use of Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program Before and During Pandemic

  • Outcome Indicators by Race/Ethnicity
    Children's Emotional Health
  • Depression-Related Feelings

  • Youth Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Number of Youth Suicides

  • Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Substantiated Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect

  • Health Status
  • Health Status

  • Low Birthweight and Preterm Births
  • Infants Born at Low Birthweight

  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant Mortality Rate

  • Cancer
  • Childhood Cancer Diagnoses
  • Net Five-Year Cancer Survival Rate

  • Injuries
  • Firearm Injury Hospitalizations, by Intent

  • Deaths
  • Death Rate
  • Death Rate, by Cause
  • Firearm Deaths

  • Physical Fitness
  • Students Meeting All Fitness Standards, by Grade Level

  • Weight
  • Students Who Are Overweight or Obese, by Grade Level

  • Math Proficiency
  • Students Meeting or Exceeding Grade-Level Standard in Mathematics

  • Reading Proficiency
  • Students Meeting or Exceeding Grade-Level Standard in English Language Arts

  • High School Graduation
  • High School Graduates
  • Students Not Completing High School

  • Family Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Caregiver Feelings of Stress and Accumulating Difficulties in Past Month
  • Caregiver Feelings of Stress and Accumulating Difficulties During Pandemic
  • Caregiver Confidence in Ability to Control Important Things in Past Month
  • Caregiver Confidence in Ability to Control Important Things During Pandemic
  • Intimate Partner Violence Against Caregivers
  • Physical and Harsh Verbal Discipline of Children in Past Week

  • Additional Indicators by Race/Ethnicity
  • Births
  • Child Population (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More)
  • Child Population, by Legislative District
  • Child Population, by County
  • Projected Child Population, by County
  • Youth Sexual Orientation
  • Transgender Youth

  • Family Structure
  • Living Arrangement for Children, by Presence of Parents

  • Characteristics of Children with Special Needs
  • Children with Special Health Care Needs

  • Childhood Adversity and Resilience
  • Children with Two or More Adverse Experiences (Parent Reported)
  • Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (Adult Retrospective)

  • Student Demographics
  • Public School Enrollment

  • College Eligibility
  • High School Graduates Completing College Preparatory Courses

  • Breastfeeding
  • In-Hospital Breastfeeding of Newborns

  • Nutrition
  • Children Drinking One or More Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in the Past Day
  • Students Eating Breakfast in the Past Day

  • Teen Births
  • Teen Births

  • Youth Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use
  • Alcohol/Drug Use in Past Month
  • Alcohol/Drug Use on School Property in Past Month
  • Alcohol/Drug Use and Driving in Lifetime
  • Alcohol Use in Past Month
  • Binge Drinking in Past Month
  • Alcohol Use in Lifetime
  • Cigarette Use in Past Month
  • Cigarette Use in Lifetime
  • E-Cigarette Use in Past Month
  • E-Cigarette Use in Lifetime
  • Marijuana Use in Past Month
  • Marijuana Use in Lifetime

  • Family Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Children's School Arrangement
  • Children's School Currently Closed
  • Children's School Ever Closed During Pandemic
  • Positive but Stressful Experiences Helping Children with Schoolwork
  • Positive and Stressful Experiences Helping Children with Schoolwork, by Type
  • Concern That Children Are Falling Behind at School
  • Children's Activities Currently Disrupted, by Type of Disruption
  • Children's Activities Ever Disrupted During Pandemic, by Type of Disruption
  • Children's Informal Social Activities Currently Canceled
  • Children's Informal Social Activities Ever Canceled During Pandemic
  • Young Children's Vaccinations Currently Postponed
  • Young Children's Vaccinations Ever Postponed During Pandemic
  • Caregiver's Employment Status
  • Change in Caregiver's Employment During Pandemic
  • Reduction in Caregiver's Working Hours to Care for Children or Others
  • Change in Household Financial Situation During Pandemic
  • Activities with Children in Past Week
  • Outdoor Activities with Children in Past Week
  • Reading with Children in Past Week
  • Daily Opportunities for Children to Have Fun
  • Caring Adults Outside of the Home
  • People with Whom Children Spent Four or More Hours Weekly Before Pandemic
  • People with Whom Children Spent Four or More Hours in Past Week
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences, by Number
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences, by Type
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (Caregiver Retrospective), by Number
  • Feelings of Anger Toward Children in Past Week
  • Feelings of Closeness to Children During Pandemic
  • Concern for Children's Emotional or Mental Health in Past Month
  • Caregiver Self-Care Activities in Response to Stress in Past Month
  • Caregiver Substance Use in Response to Stress in Past Month
  • People from Whom Caregiver Sought Support in Past Month

  • [1] For more on systems measures, see: StriveTogether. (2021). A guide to racial and ethnic equity systems indicators. Retrieved from: https://www.strivetogether.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/A-guide-to-racial-and-ethnic-equity-systems-indicators.pdf