Children’s Health Access Improving in California, Researchers Say

California has improved access to health care for children in recent years, but still lags behind many other states in terms of the overall well-being of kids, a new report finds.

A nationwide ranking system by two children’s groups says California comes in 38th for well-being for kids. The ranking system, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Children Now, includes all 50 states, listed from best to worst performing.

The overall well-being ranking takes into account health, education, economic, and family and community factors.

California’s ranking has improved steadily since 2012 and 2013, when it was ranked 41st overall.

“California leaders have taken positive steps to improve children’s well-being and we’ve seen the results — improvements in the lives of millions of kids,” Children Now president Ted Lempert said in a release.

The state scored highest on the health ranking, coming in at 11th. Much of that is due to the state’s expansion of Medi-Cal, it’s low-income health program. All low-income children in California, regardless of immigration status, now qualify for Medi-Cal.

The percentage of uninsured children dropped from 11 percent in 2008 to 5 percent in 2014, and is expected to decrease further in the coming year, as undocumented children enroll in the program.

California ranked lowest in economic well-being, coming in at 47th. This is largely due to the state’s high proportion of children living at or below the federal poverty level. More than 2 million kids, or 23 percent of those in the state, live in poverty.

The state ranked 35th in education and 41st in family and community.

Lempert said the state should continue to push for improvement on these measures.

“With California’s vibrant and diverse communities, incredible intellectual and financial resources and our reputation for leadership and innovation, we can do better than 36th in children’s well-being,” he said.

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