A new study shows significant differences between the health and wellbeing of the 4.7 million Latino children in California and white children in the state. The study, conducted at the request of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health,* also shows Latino children now make up almost half the children in the state.
Among the findings:
- More than 94 percent of Latino children in California were born in the United States.
- Latino children are more likely to live in poverty, lack health insurance and have higher obesity rates than white children. But Latino kids have similar access to preventive health care and most of their parents report them as being in “good” or “excellent” health.
- Children living in households where Spanish is the primary language have greater health access and education challenges than children living in homes where both Spanish and English are spoken.
- More than 370,000 Latino children in California don’t have health insurance, even though they are eligible for government-funded programs. Reasons the children lack coverage include fear of enrolling even children born in the U.S. if the parents are undocumented immigrants, and limited English proficiency by parents which can impact their understanding about eligibility as well as how to enroll.
- Latino children are as likely or more likely to live in homes that promote good health behaviors. For example, Latino children in California are more likely to eat meals together as a family every day than white children and are more likely than white children to live in a household where no one smokes.
The study offers recommendations for policies aimed at improving the health of Latino children in California including:
- Early childhood education for every Latino child.
- Increased support for community health centers in Latino communities.
- Increased enrollment of all eligible children in school nutrition programs, food stamps, WIC, Medi-Cal and other programs that improve access to healthy food and health care.
- Support for adult literacy programs and translation services in health care systems in order to improve children’s health outcomes.
* The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health is a funder of the California Health Report.