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- Definition: Estimated percentage of children ages 0-17 whose health status is (a) excellent or very good, (b) good, and (c) fair or poor, by income level, as based on parent or self-reports (e.g., in 2017-2018, among California children living below 200% of their federal poverty threshold, 65.3% were in excellent or very good health).
- Data Source: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, California Health Interview Survey (Aug. 2020).
- Footnote: The federal poverty threshold was $25,465 for a family of two adults and two children in 2018. These estimates are based on a survey of the population and are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. The notation S refers to data that have been suppressed because the sample size was lower than 50, the percentage was less than 0.1, or the estimate was suppressed by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Data may have wide margins of error and should be treated with caution. For more information and margins of error around specific estimates, visit the California Health Interview Survey. N/A means that data are not available.
- Measures of Health Status on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, estimates of children's health status are based on self-reports (or parent reports, for younger children) of being generally in (a) excellent or very good health, (b) good health, or (c) fair or poor health. Data are available for children ages 0-17 overall, by income level, and by race/ethnicity.
- Health Status
- Characteristics of Children with Special Needs
- Children with Special Health Care Needs
- Children with and without Special Health Care Needs Who Are Overweight or Obese (California & U.S. Only)
- Prevalence of Special Education Disabilities Among Students, by Disability Type
- Children with Major Disabilities
- Family Income and Poverty
- Children in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity
- Children in Deep Poverty
- Income Level for Children Relative to Poverty
- Children in Poverty - Supplemental Poverty Measure (California & U.S. Only)
- Children in Poverty - California Poverty Measure
- Children in Deep Poverty - California Poverty Measure
- Poverty-Reducing Effects of the Social Safety Net - California Poverty Measure, by Program Type and Poverty Level (California Only)
- Families Living Below Self-Sufficiency Standard
- Student Demographics
- Children's Emotional Health
- Hospitalizations for Mental Health Issues, by Age Group
- Youth Needing Help for Emotional or Mental Health Problems
- Student Depression or Mental Health Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- School Emphasizes Helping Students with Emotional and Behavioral Problems (Staff Reported)
- Early Care and Education
- Children Ages 3-5 Enrolled in Preschool or Kindergarten
- Children Ages 3-5 Enrolled in Preschool or Kindergarten (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More)
- Annual Cost of Child Care, by Age Group and Facility Type
- Availability of Child Care for Working Families
- Child Care Spaces in Licensed Facilities, by Facility Type
- Licensed Child Care Facilities, by Type
- Licensed Child Care Facilities Offering Evening, Weekend or Overnight Care, by Facility Type
- Food Security
- Childhood Adversity and Resilience
- Children with Adverse Experiences (Parent Reported), by Number (CA & U.S. Only)
- Children with Adverse Experiences (Parent Reported), by Type (CA & U.S. Only)
- Children with Two or More Adverse Experiences (Parent Reported), by Race/Ethnicity (CA & U.S. Only)
- Children Who Are Resilient (Parent Reported)
- Dental Care
- Health Care
- Health Insurance Coverage, by Type and Age Group
- Health Insurance Coverage Status, by Race/Ethnicity
- Medicaid (Medi-Cal) or Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Coverage
- Medicaid (Medi-Cal) or CHIP Coverage, by Age Group (California & U.S. Only)
- Medicaid (Medi-Cal) and CHIP Yearly Enrollment (California & U.S. Only)
- Uninsured at Any Point in Past Year
- Medical Care Delayed or Forgone in Past Year
- Length of Time Since Teen's Last Check-Up
- Usual Source of Health Care
- Receipt of Care Within a Medical Home
- School Health Centers
- School Provides Adequate Health Services (Staff Reported)
- Children Drinking One or More Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in the Past Day
- Children Eating Five or More Servings of Fruits or Vegetables in the Past Day, by Age Group
- Children Eating Fast Food Two or More Times in the Past Week, by Age Group
- Healthy Food Choices Provided at School (Staff Reported)
- Physical Fitness
- Why This Topic Is Important
Health status during childhood sets young people on a path toward good or poor health in adulthood (1, 2). Each stage of life influences the next, with early childhood in particular providing a foundation for future health and development (1, 2, 3). Children who face disadvantage—whether in household or neighborhood resources, education, family functioning, exposure to traumatic events, or other social factors—tend to fare worse on measures of health than other children (1, 4).
Promoting child health not only improves the lives of individual children and their families, it also strengthens the health of the next generation, which may have significant social and economic impacts (1, 2, 5). Healthier young people tend to become healthier and more educated adults who are better able to contribute to society, which means a stronger workforce and reduced strain on public service systems (2, 5). Thus, nurturing California's children today may improve the state's future social and economic well being (2, 6).Monitoring the overall status of children's health is a critical step, as it allows policymakers, service providers, funders, and others to identify population trends and needs, and develop appropriate investments and strategies to support children and communities.
For more information, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Braveman, P., et al. (2014). Early childhood experiences shape health and well-being throughout life. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2014/08/early-childhood-experiences-shape-health-and-well-being-througho.html
2. Rossin-Slater, M. (2015). Promoting health in early childhood. The Future of Children, 25(1), 35-64. Retrieved from: https://futureofchildren.princeton.edu/sites/futureofchildren/files/media/policies_to_promote_child_health_25_full_journal.pdf
3. Richards, J., et al. (2017). Life course and social determinants: Professional resource brief. Maternal and Child Health Digital Library. Retrieved from: https://www.mchlibrary.org/professionals/lifecourse.php
4. Artiga, S., & Hinton, E. (2018). Beyond health care: The role of social determinants in promoting health and health equity. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.kff.org/racial-equity-and-health-policy/issue-brief/beyond-health-care-the-role-of-social-determinants-in-promoting-health-and-health-equity
5. Halfon, N., et al. (2014). The changing nature of children's health development: New challenges require major policy solutions. Health Affairs, 33(12), 2116-2124. Retrieved from: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2014.0944
6. Myers, D. (2013). California's diminishing resource: Children. Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health. Retrieved from: https://www.lpfch.org/publication/californias-diminishing-resource-children
- How Children Are Faring
An estimated three-quarters (76%) of California children ages 0-17 were in excellent or very good health in 2017-2018, up from two-thirds (66%) in 2001. Across counties with data in 2017-2018, estimates of children in excellent or very good health ranged from less than 50% (Imperial and Madera) to more than 90% (El Dorado and San Francisco). In 2001, more than 1 in 12 California children (9%) were in fair or poor health; in 2017-2018 this proportion was about 1 in 20 (5%).
Children's health status varies by family income and race/ethnicity. In 2017-2018, an estimated 65% of California children living below 200% of their federal poverty threshold were in excellent or very good health, compared with 83% of children from higher-income families. Across race/ethnicity groups with data, rates of excellent or very good health status were highest among white (84%) and American Indian/Alaska Native children (80%), and lowest among Hispanic/Latino (71%) and multiracial children (73%).
- Policy Implications
Child health is shaped by a broad range of social, economic, environmental, biological, and behavioral factors (1, 2). The circumstances in which children are born and grow up impact their health and well being throughout life (1, 3). Efforts to improve child health can be strengthened by recognizing the wide range of influences on children's lives, promoting cross-sector strategies that go beyond traditional health care, and helping to ensure that all children grow up in safe and supportive environments (2, 3, 4).
Policy and program options that could improve children's health status include:
For more information, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section. Also see Policy Implications under Health Care, Childhood Adversity and Resilience, and Family Income and Poverty.
- Ensuring that every child has access to family centered, culturally competent, coordinated health care within a medical home (5)
- Supporting a comprehensive approach to health care that goes beyond treating illness to addressing social determinants of health, ensuring that training and reimbursement mechanisms are in place for health care professionals to identify non-medical health needs and provide referrals to services (2, 3)
- Fostering stable, nurturing family relationships and home environments through effective support and prevention services including comprehensive parenting education, family support, and home-visiting services for families in need (3, 6)
- Maintaining, strengthening, and increasing enrollment among eligible families in social safety net programs, such as CalFresh (food stamps) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program (4, 7)
- Ensuring that high-quality early education and child care programs—which should include a focus on strengthening parenting skills—are available to all families, regardless of income (3, 4)
- Continuing efforts to build neighborhoods that are safe and designed to promote health; as part of this, incentivizing and promoting cross-sector collaboration among urban planning, housing, transportation, health care, public health, education, and other sectors (2, 3, 6)
Sources for this narrative:
1. Richards, J., et al. (2017). Life course and social determinants: Professional resource brief. Maternal and Child Health Digital Library. Retrieved from: https://www.mchlibrary.org/professionals/lifecourse.php
2. Halfon, N., et al. (2014). The changing nature of children's health development: New challenges require major policy solutions. Health Affairs, 33(12), 2116-2124. Retrieved from: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2014.0944
3. Arkin, E., et al. (Eds.). (2014). Time to act: Investing in the health of our children and communities. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Retrieved from: https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2014/01/recommendations-from-the-rwjf-commission-to-build-a-healthier-am.html
4. Rossin-Slater, M. (2015). Promoting health in early childhood. The Future of Children, 25(1), 35-64. Retrieved from: https://futureofchildren.princeton.edu/sites/futureofchildren/files/media/policies_to_promote_child_health_25_full_journal.pdf
5. National Resource Center for Patient/Family-Centered Medical Home. (2020). Why is medical home important? American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from: https://medicalhomeinfo.aap.org/overview/Pages/Evidence.aspx
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Essentials for childhood: Creating safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/essentials.html
7. Danielson, C., et al. (2021). California's future: Safety net. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: https://www.ppic.org/publication/californias-future-safety-net
- Websites with Related Information
- Center on the Developing Child. Harvard University.
- First Focus on Children
- Health Impact Project. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & The Pew Charitable Trusts.
- National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health: Knowledge Base. Georgetown University.
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Building a Culture of Health
- Social Determinants of Health. World Health Organization.
- Social Determinants of Health at CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Key Reports and Research
- 2022 California Children's Report Card. Children Now.
- A Framework for Cross-Sector Partnerships to Address Childhood Adversity and Improve Life Course Health. (2022). Pediatrics. Liu, P. Y., et al.
- Addressing Social Determinants of Health: Examples of Successful Evidence-Based Strategies and Current Federal Efforts. (2022). Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Whitman, A., et al.
- Caring for American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Adolescents. (2021). Pediatrics. Bell, L., et al.
- Early Childhood Development and Social Determinants. (2022). Cureus. Likhar, A., et al.
- Five-Year Trends in U.S. Children’s Health and Well-Being, 2016-2020. (2022). JAMA Network. Lebrun-Harris, L. A., et al.
- Health of the States: How U.S. States Compare in Health Status and the Factors that Shape Health. (2016). Urban Institute & Center on Society and Health. Woolf, S. H., et al.
- Kids' Share: Analyzing Federal Expenditures on Children. Urban Institute.
- Most Black Children Live in Neighborhoods That Lack Amenities Associated with Child Well-Being. (2023). Child Trends. Sanders, M., et al.
- Neighborhood Adversity, Child Health, and the Role for Community Development. (2015). Pediatrics. Jutte, D. P., et al.
- Policies to Promote Child Health. (2015). The Future of Children.
- Racial and Ethnic Inequities in Children’s Neighborhoods: Evidence From the New Child Opportunity Index 2.0. (2020). Health Affairs. Acevedo-Garcia, D., et al.
- The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth. (2019). National Academies Press. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
- U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2022: Accelerating Spending, Worsening Outcomes. (2023). The Commonwealth Fund. Gunja, M. Z., et al.
- Vibrant and Healthy Kids: Aligning Science, Practice, and Policy to Advance Health Equity. (2019). National Academies Press. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
- County/Regional Reports
- Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County. Orange County Children's Partnership.
- Live Well San Diego Report Card on Children, Families, and Community. The Children’s Initiative.
- Orange County Community Indicators Report. Orange County Business Council, et al.
- Santa Clara County Children's Data Book. Santa Clara County Office of Education, et al.
- More Data Sources For Health Status
- California Health Interview Survey. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
- Childstats.gov. Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.
- Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity in California — Almanac Collection. California Health Care Foundation.
- Health, United States – Data Finder. National Center for Health Statistics.
- KIDS COUNT Data Center. Annie E. Casey Foundation.
- National Survey of Children's Health. Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative.
- The Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey. Urban Institute.
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