New interactive report gives county-level detail on children’s well-being

The California County Scorecard of Children’s Well-Being delivers a current and comprehensive picture of children’s health, education and welfare in all of California’s 58 counties. This online tool created by Children Now provides county-level data mapping, tracking key indicators of child well-being across counties, over time, and by race and ethnicity. The tool uses 43 data sets related to education, health, child welfare and early childhood.

California is home to 13.5 million youths, 8.89 million of which are ages 0 to 17. Latino children represent 48 percent of the population, 30 percent of children are white, 11 percent are Asian, 6 percent are African American and 5 percent are other races and ethnicities, according to Children Now’s data. The organization noted that they could not disaggregate groups further because the numbers were too small for statewide averages.

Other data collected by the organization found that 172,000 students were experiencing homelessness, and according to the most recent state demographics, more than 4 million children have at least one immigrant parent, 10 percent identify as LGBTQ and 38 percent of children are at or below two times the federal poverty level.

All data categories can be looked at through a statewide average or by individual county. Each indicator has a demographics breakdown displayed with it.

State-level education trends

The data from the 2021–22 Smarter Balanced Assessments reflects the struggles that students experienced due to pandemic disruptions, which only exacerbated previous challenges and inequities. One alarming data point is that, as students age and move through school systems, achievement declines. Children Now researchers explained that this is a national trend.

The state-level education data makes the case for disaggregation, as troubling spots can be concealed by averages. For instance, while the average graduation rate is 87 percent, the average graduation rate for African American students is 79 percent; 77 percent for students with individualized education plans; and 62 percent for youth in foster care.

California’s youth in foster care are disproportionately struggling in other areas as well. While the 2021–22 state average for students meeting or exceeding standards for Smarter Balanced Assessments in math and English were 33.4 percent and 47 percent respectively, just 20.6 percent of youth in foster care met or exceeded standards in English and just 10.3 percent in math.

In better news, according to the data, California has completely closed the disproportionality in suspensions for willful defiance, with an average of 92 percent of suspensions for other infractions and all subgroups at 92 or 93 percent.

Visit the 2023 California County Scorecard of Children’s Well-Being to dig into the different factors affecting children in your county: