Aug 1, 2023 - Health

Where child well-being stands in California

Photo (aerial view) of a schoolyard, including a playground and an American flag at Frank McCoppin Elementary School

The schoolyard at Frank McCoppin Elementary School in San Francisco in March 2020. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

California ranks 35th out of all 50 states when it comes to child well-being, according to a recent index published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Details: The analysis uses 16 indicators derived from federal government statistical agencies and available state and national data.

  • It does attach certain assumptions to the indicators — a higher percentage of children in single-parent families is considered a negative, for example, since single parents typically have less access to economic resources and time.

By the numbers: In California, 77% of eighth graders were not proficient in math last year, higher than the national average of 74%.

  • From 2017 to 2021, 54% of children ages 3 and 4 were not in school, up from 51% between 2012 and 2016.
  • California also had the highest rate of children in families who spent more than 30% of their income on housing in 2021 — 40%.
  • The percentage of children living in high-poverty areas dropped from 15% from 2012 to 2016 to 6% from 2017 to 2021.

The big picture: Minors make up 21.8% of California's population and 13.6% of San Francisco's population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

  • Last year, Mayor London Breed released a citywide strategy — which included increasing salaries for early educators to improve recruitment — aimed at helping children and youth recover from the impacts of the pandemic, which caused disruptions in schooling, social development and mental health.

Of note: California recently ranked 29th on WalletHub's list of best and worst school systems, which used metrics including test scores, dropout rate, number of school shootings and more.

  • 2021 state data compiled by shows that 36.2% of students in San Francisco County did not complete high school, compared to 9.4% in California overall.

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