The report card measures how well California children are faring in three major areas: education, health and the welfare of foster youth. There are 27 categories in all, ranging from K-12 funding to obesity.
The health grades are especially bad. For example, health care access got a C-minus, while mental health got a D.
“Despite the lip service given to kids, and I think most people’s genuine concern to make sure that we put our kids first, when you look at a national comparison, our prioritization of children is way below most other states,” Lempert explained.
For example, the report card says California's Medicaid reimbursements for doctors and dentists are among the lowest in the nation, which functions as a disincentive to treat children on Medi-Cal. In addition, the report points out only 2 percent of California's public schools have a school-based health center.
Lempert hopes the report card catches the attention of California lawmakers. He says research shows investments in quality programs for kids provide major returns.
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