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County Children's Scorecard
updated: Jul 13, 2011, 10:11 AM

Source: KIDS Network, County of SB Dept. of Social Services

The KIDS Network is proud to announce the release of the 2010 Santa Barbara County Children's Scorecard, a comprehensive summary of data related to children's well-being. The report is intended to paint an objective, fact-based picture of how children are faring in the areas of safety, health and education.

"The information provided in the Children's Scorecard creates an honest assessment of many strengths and challenges in our community," explains Janet Wolf, 2nd District Supervisor and Chair of the KIDS Network. "A thorough, shared understanding of the current status of Santa Barbara County's children is necessary to effectively collaborate to ensure that our children's needs are being met. The Scorecard provides a practical foundation on which to build these discussions and strategies."

The Scorecard was developed as a tool to help track and measure progress toward the goal of improving outcomes for Santa Barbara County's children. The emerging trends reflected in the data can help inform policy decisions and steer the community toward programming and services that enhance the well-being of youth and their families. In addition, current community-wide initiatives are included to help concerned individuals and agencies make informed decisions about how and where to direct their efforts on behalf of children.

"The complexity of issues surrounding children's health and well-being make it essential that policy decisions are based on reliable, locally collected data ," said Kathy Gallagher, Director of the Department of Social Services. "Having a resource like the Children's Scorecard at our disposal allows us to effectively respond to trends with programs and services that directly address the needs of the children in our County."

Originally conceived and designed by Dr. Michael Furlong at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara County Children's Scorecard was issued for the first time in 1994. The Scorecard is now produced by the KIDS Network, a countywide umbrella organization including members from public agencies, the courts, law enforcement, education, community-based organizations, school-linked programs and parent groups, in collaboration with UCSB Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. The KIDS Network is a division of the Department of Social Services of Santa Barbara County.

For more information, please contact the KIDS Network at 805.346.8356. The Santa Barbara County Children's Scorecard is available online at www.countyofsb.org/kidsnet. Please see the following pages for notable findings from the 2010 version.

2010 Children's Scorecard Notable Findings

Child Abuse and Neglect: The overall rate of substantiated (meaning investigated and found to meet legal definitions) of abuse and neglect declined in Santa Barbara County, and was below the statewide rate per 1,000 children in 2010. Children under age 1 were consistently most at risk, while neglect remained the most frequent type of abuse for all ages.

Juvenile Crime: The rates for juvenile felony and violent offenses increased overall since 2000, but dropped in 2010. Most offenses did not involve weapons, and were committed by youth 14 and older.

Child Poverty: Both the statewide and county poverty rates for children under 18 were at their highest of the decade in 2009 (most recent available data). The percentages of county and statewide public school students enrolled in the Free and Reduced-Price Meal Program increased overall, and were at their highest of the decade in 2010.

Child Care: According to estimated licensed child care availability for children ages 0-12, there were two children in need of care for every space available in the county in 2009 (most recent available data). There was a critical shortage of infant-toddler care. Cost can be burdensome for families, not all of whom are eligible for subsidized programs.

School Connectedness: Countywide, more students than in the past reported feeling connected to school. Additionally, over half reported having an adult outside of home and school with whom they have a caring relationship and who has high expectations of them.

Birth Weight: Santa Barbara County has not yet met the Healthy People Goal for percentage of children born at low birth weight. There was no significant change in the data over time from 2000 to 2009 (most recent available data).

Physical Fitness: The percentage of Santa Barbara County youth considered "fit" increased slightly over time, but was still less than half of all children and youth in all grades tested. County rates generally remained better than the rates for California as a whole.

Mental Health: Adjustment Disorder and Child & Adolescent Disorder were the most common diagnosis categories among children and youth seen by Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services (ADMHS) in 2010. These categories primarily include Attention Deficit, Conduct and Attachment Disorders, and signs of depression or anxiety. For youth admitted to the ADMHS Alcohol and Drug Program, the reported age of first substance use was primarily between ages 11 to 15.

Health Insurance: The number and percentage of children insured by Medi-Cal and Healthy Families greatly increased over time. The majority of individuals and children on public health insurance were in North County. The percentage of uninsured children appears to have decreased since 2001 (although the data are not considered statistically stable).

Grade School STAR Test Scores: Although the scores for English-Language Arts and Math showed slight gains between third and seventh grade, there were significant achievement gaps based on parent education level, income, and ethnicity. Similar gaps occur nationwide. No significant progress has been made in closing these gaps for California students.

High School Algebra 1 CST Test Scores: While there were sizable gains since 2003, the total number of students with proficient or advanced scores in Algebra remained low. Student scores for Algebra differed dramatically according to parent education level.

High School Exit Exam Test Scores: There was no significant change over time in the percentage of students able to pass the Mathematics or English-Language Arts sections of the exam. The majority of students, particularly those who were not socio-economically disadvantaged, were able to pass the exam in tenth grade.

 

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