grade given to the county is a reflection of 26 indicators of
children’s health, safety and readiness to learn, according to a
statement from the group.
San Benito County is tied with eight other counties in California for having the worst-possible rating in a study of children’s well-being, according to the 2008 California County Scorecard of Children’s Well-being issued by Children Now, an advocacy group.
The “D+” grade given to the county is a reflection of 26 indicators of children’s health, safety and readiness to learn, according to a statement from the group.
The first step, according to Wilma Chan, vice president of policy for Children Now, is to take a hard look at the data.
“Your county is not doing poorly in all areas,” said Chan, who pointed to regular dental visits and after-school supervision of kids as examples where San Benito does well, despite “many areas of concern.”
“The important thing is to act on the indicators receiving a ‘low’ rating,” continued Chan, who noted how 25 percent of high school students indicated they felt safe – and called it a troubling example of something that can be addressed by “looking at state and national models for a solution.”
Among the indicators on which San Benito County received a low rating, contributing to the overall grade, are the following:
– the number of children who report “very good” to “excellent” health
– children with health insurance
– children within a healthy weight zone
– children who live within walking distance of a park or open space area
– children with a school nurse
– young children who are read to often
– the number of eighth graders enrolled in algebra
Overall, San Benito received 10 ratings of “low” in the indicators, nine of “medium,” and six of “high.”
San Benito is in a cluster of six of the nine state counties to receive the rating of “D+” that includes Merced, Madera, Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties. The other three are Colusa, Del Norte and Modoc, all located relatively far to the north.
According to its Web site, Children Now believes that the solution lies in identifying problems that are composed of “…interconnected social, physical, service and economic components,” and then bringing together all concerned agencies.
“Towns, counties, and state and national agencies need to get together,” summarized Chan. “This study is county based, but we all must be involved.”
This is the first time the nonprofit organization has published its findings, and “Children Now hopes this information will be compiled and compared over many years to benefit California Counties,” said Chan.
Look for reaction from local school and health officials in a story later this week.