How are Contra Costa’s Children Doing?

Children Now released its 2012 California County Scorecard yesterday, and its news for young children in Contra Costa is both promising and concerning.

Because what happens in early childhood lays the foundation for later success in school and life, technically all 28 indicators in the report have something to do with early childhood. But for the sake of understanding how well we are doing at laying the foundation, let’s examine indicators specific to early childhood.

The best news is that Contra Costa is seeing significant improvement in two indicators of literacy:

  • The number of young children who are read to every day is up by 12%; and
  • The number of third-graders who are reading at grade level is up 26%.

Continue reading

Strengthening Contra Costa’s Safety Net

Shelter, food, and financial assistance were the top requests 211 operators received last year.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book released in July, California fell to 41st out of 50 states in overall children’s well-being. When it comes to economic well-being, we’re 45th.

Children Now, a partner on the Data Book, reports that 36% of California’s children live in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment – a 20% increase since 2008. The recession has taken its toll, and many of these families have turned to the safety net for the first time.

The Contra Costa Crisis Center, the organization implementing Contra Costa County’s 211 phone referral service linking people to community programs, reports that their operators continually field calls from frustrated callers whose needs far outweigh the services available. The most common requests from callers looking for services last year were for shelter or subsidized housing, rental and utility bill assistance, general financial assistance, and food pantry/food resources.

Continue reading

The U.S. Downgrades the Future of our Children

“Yesterday, the stock market dropped over two hundred points on news that child welfare in the U.S. worsened in the last year. Forecasters don’t see any improvement in children’s health or education in the coming months as such key indicators as childhood obesity, per-pupil spending and high school dropout rates continue to worsen.  Investors consider such indicators a sign of the quality of the future American workforce and will continue to be bearish on American stocks until childhood conditions improve.”

Can you imagine if this were true?  If Wall Street were so concerned about children that they would make daily investment decisions based on children’s welfare? They should. The high school class of 2023 is starting kindergarten this month and there is every indication that the workforce emerging from that class will be as challenged and underprepared as the one that just graduated in June. Continue reading