Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Child well-being improves in California except for family income

An index on the well-being of California's children finds improvements in the past ten years. The researchers who conducted the study do fear that the global recession could hurt those improvements.

Five different measurements were tracked over the past ten years including education, emotions, health, economics and teen pregnancy. All areas saw improvement except for family economics and the numbers of children living below the poverty level.

From the Press Enterprise, writer Lora Hines unpacks the report's details.

A new index released today by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, a Palo Alto-based charity, shows how children have lived based on data, such as poverty and teen birth rates, tracked from 1995 to 2006. Researchers calculated that the overall measure of child health and well-being improved by 16 percent in California.

However, estimates suggest that next year more than one in four children in California will be living below the poverty line.

"This index gives California a solid benchmark to gauge progress in advancing the health of children," said Dr. David Alexander, the foundation's president and chief executive officer. "We have made slow, steady progress, but present economic conditions now threaten these gains."

Duke University sociologist Kenneth Land created the index based on a national model he developed for the foundation, which it has released annually since 2004. He reviewed an estimated 250 indicators and analyzed five areas, educational achievement, emotional well-being, family economics, health and behavioral concerns, to come up with his findings. Land tracked improvements in almost all five areas except for family economics, which dropped dramatically.

"Although it's impossible to determine just how much poverty will affect the overall California index, poverty rates are likely to weigh down what, at least until 2006, were general improvements in child well-being," Land said.

More than 1.2 million children live in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. In 2008, 17 percent of Riverside County children lived in poverty, according to U.S. Census data. Almost 21 percent of San Bernardino County lived in poverty.

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