The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual Kids Count Data Book and once again California ranks 41st nationally on child well-being. How is it that California, considered one of the top ten economies in the world, can’t make it out of the bottom ten states in the country when it comes to the well-being of our children?
The data do show that improvements have been made in health and educational outcomes for children. But alarmingly, when it comes to poverty, children are doing worse in every category.
Just about one in four children in California now lives in poverty. That means a quarter of our children are likely to be too hungry to grow, too distracted by overcrowded housing to learn, or too stressed to be healthy. This is the legacy of the Great Recession that will affect an entire generation of Californians if we do not address it quickly and emphatically.
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.