Report Gives California C Grade for Children’s Health, Education, Shows Racial Health Disparities
California received a C average on health and education for the 9.5 million children in the state, according to the annual State of the State's Children report card released on Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The report also found racial and ethnic health disparities among children in the state.
The report card, scored by researchers at Children Now, covers a range of issues, including health insurance, obesity, asthma, child care, infant and adolescent health, and public education.
The state was graded a C on providing health insurance to children, compared with a B- last year. In 2005, the most recent year for which data were available, about 800,000 children, or 7%, were uninsured, according to the report card. The state received a D+, its lowest mark, for obesity. About three million, or one-third, of the state's children are overweight or obese, according to the report. Asthma was included on the report card for the first time, and the state received a C-. About one-sixth of the state's children have asthma, according to the report.
Health Disparities Findings
About 12% of Hispanic children were uninsured, the highest rate of any group in the state. In addition, about 25% of black children in the state have asthma (Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/3). Also, 34% of black children are overweight or obese. Ellen Stein, San Francisco's medical director for maternal and child health, said that health problems for black children come from the economic disadvantages of living in low-income neighborhoods (Upton, Washington Examiner, 1/3).
Overall, grades changed little from the last two years, according to Children Now President Ted Lempert. "Policymakers have to stop saying kids are their priority when we have a long, long way to go," he said. State legislators pledged to make health care a priority last year and have pushed a comprehensive health proposal through the Assembly. If the state Senate approves the legislation, the bill would require voter support for funding (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/3).
The California children's health report card is available online (.pdf).