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'Kids Count' Report Gives California Low Marks

Elementary students from a San Diego Unified school attend an assembly in the school's courtyard.
KPBS News
Elementary students from a San Diego Unified school attend an assembly in the school's courtyard.

New report on children's well-being ranks California 38th in the nation, just ahead of Oklahoma

‘Kids Count’ Report Gives California Low Marks
The report released Tuesday on the well-being of children ranks California 38th in the nation, just ahead of Oklahoma.

The latest edition of the annual Kids Count report on children's well-being ranks California 38th in the country, just ahead of Oklahoma.

Produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the report released Tuesday examines 16 categories of well-being, including teen birth rates, the percentage of kids in single-parent families, child poverty rates and the percentage of children attending preschool. The foundation works to improve the lives of children at risk for poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes, according to its website.

California ranks next to last in terms of economic indicators, the report said. Jessica Mindnich, director of research for the advocacy group Children Now, said nearly one in four California children lives in poverty.

“California has the eighth largest economy in the world, so to me it’s not acceptable," Mindnich said. "I think it really reflects a chronic underinvestment in our kids."

The report shows California has made progress in children’s health, primarily because of the expansion of Medi-Cal, which provides health care to the state's poor.

The state also has taken steps to provide more access to preschool, a move the report said leads to higher levels of educational attainment.

“Over the last two years, we’ve seen the state fund an additional 21,000 slots for preschool for the neediest kids in our state," Mindnich said. "But we still have much more room to go.”

The Kids Count report says 54 percent of the state's eligible children did not go to preschool in 2013.