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Ten-Year Trends in the Health of Young Children in California: 2003 to 2011-2012

May 21, 2015

Policy Brief

Authors: Sue Holtby, Elaine Zahnd, PhD, David Grant, PhD

This policy brief presents 10-year trends in several key health and wellness indicators for children ages 0-5 in California. These indicators are health insurance coverage; source of medical care; dental visits; overweight-for-age; parents singing and reading to their child and going out with the child; and preschool attendance. The data are from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the largest state health survey in the U.S. The survey gathers information on a range of health behaviors and health conditions, as well as on access to health care among children, adolescents, and adults in California. A number of these key indicators are compared by income and by racial/ethnic group.

This policy brief covers the years 2003 to 2011-2012, a period in which public health efforts for children focused on childhood obesity and improved nutrition, access to low-cost and free dental services, and the expansion of children’s health insurance programs. CHIS data show improvement in health insurance coverage and access to dental services for low-income children over the 10-year period. However, the percentage of children who were overweight for their age remained unchanged among those in households with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). In terms of measures associated with school readiness, preschool attendance dropped overall between 2003 and 2011-2012, but the proportions of parents who sang, read, and went out with their children every day increased significantly during the 10-year period.
 
This policy brief was funded by First 5 California.
 

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