By Annalise Stromsta
As an employee at VIVA, I am no stranger to concepts such as QRIS, ACE’s, and summer learning loss. However, after reading the 2016 California Children’s Report Card from Children Now, I find myself stepping back and asking, “How can this be OK with anybody? Why aren’t alarm bells ringing in the halls of Sacramento?”
The Children’s Report Card is filled with jaw-dropping data on the well being of California’s children, presented through stunning infographics and succinct text. Seen separately, these data points are astounding–but when presented together as a cohesive representation of the state of our youngest children, I find that the effect is much, much greater.
The report is filled to the brim with valuable information and data. Here are three of my key takeaways after reading:
1. QRIS is here to stay.
Children Now’s Score on Quality Improvement Systems: C-
Data Point to Know: Over 2,000 centers and family child care homes across 45 counties are participating in QRIS.
In the report, Children Now refers to quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) as an “emerging tool for ensuring program quality across the state.” California is moving in the right direction to improve the quality of early learning opportunities through grant funding for QRIS and First 5 California’s IMPACT program–but we still have significant ground to cover in developing a statewide system with adequate training and compensation for the workforce.
2. We’re still struggling with how to address ACEs.
Children Now’s Score on Childhood Trauma & Resilience: D-
Data Point to Know: A person with 4 or more Adverse Childhood Experiences is more than five times as likely to suffer from depression, and more than four times as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
ACEs, or Adverse Childhood Experiences like abuse and neglect, have been a long-standing issue in the early childhood arena because of their long-term physical and social consequences. While organizations throughout the state, such as the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, have set up systems to address ACEs, California is still in need of programs, policies, and supports that encourage families and communities to support trauma prevention.
3. Foster youth are in need of supports and services.
Children Now’s Score on Foster Youth Education: D+
Data Point to Know: 75% of foster youth read below grade-level in third grade.
Foster youth encounter unique challenges to achieve success in school–moving between several homes in a year can cause a foster youth to miss almost a month of school, further perpetuating an achievement gap that is harder and harder to overcome. As a state, California is in need of streamlined supports and services to help foster youth prepare and succeed in school and their career. California has made head way to address these issues, through data sharing and expanded programs, but we still have some work to do to ensure that all foster youth across the state are receiving the supports and services they need.
Looking at this, you might be feeling discouraged. But, the Children Now 2016 California Report is a great roadmap to prioritize decisions for the future. Instead of feeling discouraged, let’s flip the switch and consider this report as a guide for future efforts to improve the lives of California’s youngest children. Who’s with me?