Health Status (see data for this topic)
- Websites with Related Information
- Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
- First Focus: Making Children and Families the Priority
- National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health: MCH Knowledge Base and Library Collection
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Building a Culture of Health
- Social Determinants of Health: Know What Affects Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Key Reports and Research
- 2020 California Children's Report Card, Children Now
- A Fifteen-Year (1997-2012) Profile of Children’s Overall Health: National and State Estimates, by Family Income Level, 2014, Child Trends, Murphey, D., et al.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): California Update, 2011–2013 Data, 2016, California Dept. of Public Health
- Caring for Children, 2014, Health Affairs, Weil, A. R.
- Children’s Health Programs in California: Promoting a Lifetime of Health and Well-Being, 2015, California Budget and Policy Center, Schumacher, K.
- Improving Adolescent Health Policy: Incorporating a Framework for Assessing State-Level Policies, 2014, Annual Review of Public Health, Brindis, C. D., & Moore, K.
- Improving the Health of All Americans by Focusing on Early Childhood, 2013, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America
- Kids' Share: Analyzing Federal Expenditures on Children, Urban Institute
- Neighborhood Adversity, Child Health, and the Role for Community Development, 2015, Pediatrics, Jutte, D. P., et al.
- Policies to Promote Child Health, 2015, The Future of Children
- Portrait of Promise: The California Statewide Plan to Promote Health and Mental Health Equity, 2015, California Dept. of Public Health, Office of Health Equity
- Profiles of Adolescents Who Are Not in Good Health, 2014, Child Trends, Moore, K. A., & Sacks, V. H.
- The Health of the States: How U.S. States Compare in Health Status and the Factors that Shape Health, 2016, Urban Institute & Center on Society and Health, Woolf, S. H., et al.
- Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities, 2014, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America
- County/Regional Reports
- Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, Orange County Children's Partnership
- Live Well San Diego Report Card on Children, Families, and Community, 2019, San Diego Children’s Initiative
- Orange County Community Indicators Report, Orange County Community Indicators Project
- Santa Clara County Children's Data Book, Santa Clara County Office of Education & Kids in Common
- More Data Sources For Health Status
- California Health Interview Survey, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
- California Strong Start Index, First 5 Association of California & Children's Data Network
- Child Trends Databank
- Childstats.gov, Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics
- Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative
- Health, United States, 2018 – Data Finder, National Center for Health Statistics
- KIDS COUNT Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- The Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey, Urban Institute
Learn More About This Topic
- Why This Topic Is Important
Health status during childhood sets young people on a path toward good or poor health in adulthood (1, 2). Each stage of life influences the next, with the early years in particular providing a foundation for future health and development (1, 2, 3). Children who face disadvantage—whether in education, family functioning, exposure to traumatic events, family or neighborhood resources, or other social factors—tend to fare worse on measures of health than other children (1, 4).
Promoting child health not only improves the lives of individual children and their families, it also strengthens the health of the next generation, which may have significant social and economic impacts (1, 2, 5). Healthy young people tend to become healthier and more educated adults who are better able to contribute to society than those who struggle with health problems, which means a stronger workforce and reduced strain on public service systems (2, 5). Thus, nurturing California's children today may improve the state's future social and economic well being (2, 6).Monitoring the overall status of children’s health is a critical step, as it allows policymakers, service providers, funders, and others to identify population trends and needs, and develop appropriate investments and strategies to support children.
For more information, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Braveman, P., et al. (2014). Early childhood experiences shape health and well-being throughout life. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Retrieved from: http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2014/08/early-childhood-experiences-shape-health-and-well-being-througho.html
2. Rossin-Slater, M. (2015). Promoting health in early childhood. The Future of Children, 25(1), 35-64. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43267762
3. Richards, J., et al. (2017). Life course and social determinants professional resource brief. National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncemch.org/guides/lifecourse.php
4. Heiman, H., & Artiga, S. (2015). Beyond health care: The role of social determinants in promoting health and health equity. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from: http://kff.org/disparities-policy/issue-brief/beyond-health-care-the-role-of-social-determinants-in-promoting-health-and-health-equity
5. Halfon, N., et al. (2014). The changing nature of children’s health development: New challenges require major policy solutions. Health Affairs, 33(12), 2116-2124. Retrieved from: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/33/12/2116
6. Myers, D. (2013). California’s diminishing resource: Children. Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. Retrieved from: http://www.lpfch.org/publication/californias-diminishing-resource-children
- Policy Implications
Child health is shaped by a broad range of factors, including social, economic, environmental, biological, and behavioral influences (1, 2). The circumstances in which children are born and grow up impact their health and well being throughout life (1, 3). Efforts to improve child health can be strengthened by recognizing the wide range of influences on children's lives, promoting cross-sector strategies that go beyond traditional health care, and helping to ensure that all children grow up in safe and supportive environments (2, 3, 4).
Policy and program options that could improve children's health include:
For more information, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section. Also see Policy Implications under Health Care, Childhood Adversity and Resilience, and Family Income and Poverty.
- Ensuring that every child has access to family-centered, culturally competent, coordinated health care within a “medical home” (5)
- Supporting a comprehensive approach to health care that goes beyond treating illness to addressing social determinants of health, such as access to healthy food or safe housing; for example, ensuring that training and reimbursement mechanisms are in place for health care professionals to identify non-medical health needs and provide referrals to services (2, 3)
- Fostering stable, nurturing family relationships and home environments by ensuring that effective support and prevention services are in place, including comprehensive parenting education, family support, and home-visiting services for families in need (3, 6)
- Maintaining and strengthening social safety net programs for families, and increasing enrollment among eligible families in these programs, such as CalFresh (food stamps) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) (4, 7)
- Ensuring that all families, regardless of income, have access to high-quality early education and child care programs, which should include a focus on strengthening parenting skills (3, 4)
- Continuing efforts to build neighborhoods that are safe and designed to promote health, recognizing that where children live, learn, and play greatly affects their health; as part of this, incentivizing and promoting cross-sector collaboration, for instance, among urban planning, housing, transportation, health care, public health, education, and other sectors (2, 3, 6)
Sources for this narrative:
1. Richards, J., et al. (2017). Life course and social determinants professional resource brief. National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncemch.org/guides/lifecourse.php
2. Halfon, N., et al. (2014). The changing nature of children’s health development: New challenges require major policy solutions. Health Affairs, 33(12), 2116-2124. Retrieved from: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/33/12/2116
3. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. (2014). Time to act: Investing in the health of our children and communities. Retrieved from: http://www.rwjf.org/en/research-publications/find-rwjf-research/2014/01/recommendations-from-the-rwjf-commission-to-build-a-healthier-am.html
4. Rossin-Slater, M. (2015). Promoting health in early childhood. The Future of Children, 25(1), 35-64. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43267762
5. National Center for Medical Home Implementation. (2016). Why is medical home important? American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from: https://medicalhomeinfo.aap.org/overview/Pages/Evidence.aspx
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Essentials for childhood: Steps to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/essentials.html
7. Danielson, C. (2017). California's future: Social safety net. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: http://www.ppic.org/publication/californias-future-social-safety-net
- How Children Are Faring
It is estimated that nearly three-quarters (74%) of California children ages 0-17 were in excellent or very good health in 2013-14, up from approximately two-thirds (66%) in 2001. Among counties with data, estimates of children in very good to excellent health ranged from 54% in Mendocino County to 87% in San Mateo County. In 2001, more than 1 in 12 California children (9%) were in fair or poor health; in 2013-14 this proportion was about 1 in 20 (5%).
Children's health status varies by family income and race/ethnicity. In 2013-14, an estimated 67% of California children living below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level were in excellent or very good overall health, compared to 81% of children from higher-income families. Among racial/ethnic groups with data, rates of excellent or very good health status were highest for multiracial and white children (83%) and lowest for Hispanic/Latino children (68%) in 2013-14.
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