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Investing in Children Key to Righting California Economy, According to New Children Now 'Report Card'

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 General News J E 4
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OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 6 The issues weakening Californiachildren's well-being are also undermining the economic prosperity of thestate as a whole. This is one of the key findings in a new study releasedtoday by Children Now, a leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicatedto giving all children the opportunity to reach their full potential.

The 2009 California Report Card: Setting the Agenda for Children showsthat the current deficiencies in children's health and education policy areleading to significant, negative outcomes for all Californians. These includeincreased health care costs and decreased economic output. For example:

"Given the state's current fiscal crisis and poor long-term economicforecast, lawmakers must clearly articulate and substantiate an investmentstrategy now to right the ship," said Children Now President Ted Lempert. "Byall measures, smart investments in children make the most sense and shouldcome first. That's also what voters have been asking for and promised foryears."

The Report Card presents the most current data and analysis available onthe status of California's children, who represent 25 percent of allCalifornians and 12 percent of the nation's kids. The report also assignsletter grades to each individual issue covered, such as a C- in K-12education, a C- in oral health and a D+ in integrating children's serviceslocations and administration to improve access and efficiency. The highestgrade given, a B+ in after school programs, illustrates that bipartisanefforts on behalf of children are possible and can lead to significantimprovements.

For the first time in its history, the Report Card also provides immediatechildren's health and education policy actions, or "the children's agenda,"that California's leadership should pursue, such as "implement recommendationsthat improve access to and the use of data needed to support [an education]system of continuous improvement and learning by providing school districts,teachers and principals the information they need to make informed decisions."

"We simply can't afford to wait any longer to support the success of thenext generation," said Lempert. "The ongoing lack of significant progress forchildren is costing all of us -- especially our children -- too much alreadyand will only get worse."

Lempert added, "We are calling on the Governor and the Legislature to givechildren their due in 2009, and prioritize children's health and educationreform."

The 2009 California Report Card: Setting the Agenda for Children isavailable for free online at http://www.childrennow.org/reportcard.

Children Now is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization workingto raise children's well-being to the top of the national policy agenda. Theorganization focuses on ensuring quality health care, a solid education and apositive media environment for all children. Children Now's strategic approachcreates awareness of children's needs, develops effective policy solutions andengages those who can make change happen.-- One million children in California are expected to be without health insurance It costs Californians $7,000 every time an uninsured child visits a hospital for a preventable ailment. In contrast, only 17 percent of that amount ($1,200) is needed to provide health coverage for each uninsured child. -- One in five (109,011) high school students in California dropped out in 2007 Every 120,000 high school dropouts costs the state approximately $40.6 billion in total economic losses. -- 16 percent of California's adolescents are overweight or obese Medical expenses attributable to obesity cost Californians $7.7 billion each year, with $1.7 billion paid by Medicaid. -- Less than half (48%) of California's 3- and 4-year-olds attend preschool While 85 percent of brain development occurs before the age of four, less than nine percent of public investments in children's education and development are spent on children, ages four and younger.

SOURCE Children Now
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