2024 Children’s Report Card shows CA behind in many areas

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Advocates say programs that help children should be protected during the upcoming negotiations over the state budget. Photo Credit: Weedezign / Adobestock

California’s children are doing well – the vast majority have health insurance and access to transitional kindergarten – but the state is far behind in many other metrics.

The nonprofit Children Now analyzed the data, and gave the Golden State a C-minus or below in 15 out of 33 categories. Kelly Hardy is senior managing director at Children Now.

“There’s a lot of low grades that we’re seeing in the report card,” said Hardy, “and they highlight where the state has allowed racial and economic disparities to stagnate and in many cases to grow.”

The report gave California a D-minus because too few of its supports for people experiencing homelessness are tailored for unaccompanied youths.

The state also earned a D-minus in prevention of substance abuse – as efforts to curb abuse are seen as too reactive, primarily helping kids once they’ve become addicted rather than intervening early on.

California ranks 49th for its large class sizes, but Kelly noted that the state earns a B plus for its plan to give all four-year-olds access to free transitional kindergarten in public schools by the 2025-26 school year.

“This is one of the places where California is leading,” said Hardy. “And it’s really important that in places where the state is making investments, we see that those investments and that attention to the issue has resulted in success.”

The state faces a projected budget deficit this coming year – and advocates are hoping that children’s programs are spared any cuts.