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Among the stories featured on our Friday rundown; President Obama reported to be ready to take executive actions concerning Cuba; North Carolina marks another year without an execution; and Congress makes it easier for people with disabilities to save.

Report Finds Major Weaknesses in CA Kids’ Well-Being

PHOTO: A new study finds California needs to do a better job meeting the health, education and economic needs of its children. The annual 2014 California Children's Report Card from Children Now, looks at advancements made last year as the governor and legislature begin to plan their agendas for the year. Photo credit: USDA

PHOTO: A new study finds California needs to do a better job meeting the health, education and economic needs of its children. The annual 2014 California Children's Report Card from Children Now, looks at advancements made last year as the governor and legislature begin to plan their agendas for the year. Photo credit: USDA


January 8, 2014

California is getting six Bs, eight Cs and 13 Ds in the latest California Children's Report Card from the group Children Now.

The group's research found major weaknesses in how the state meets the needs of its youngest residents. Jessica Mindnich, Children Now's director of research, said California is lagging behind most other states, especially for the nearly half of its children who live in low-income households.

"We know that these kids are going to need additional supports and services so that they have the same kinds of opportunities that children in middle and upper middle-class families have," she said.

The annual report card that covers 27 issues also provides recommendations for improvements to encourage state leaders to make kids a higher priority in 2014 and beyond. The recommendations include increasing education spending.

California gets high marks in the report for new school finance reforms that direct more money to school districts with low-income students. But the state gets low marks because overall, education financing remains about $3,500 per pupil below the national average.

"Some of these things will cost more money and some won't," Mindnich said. "I think that we need to focus on making sure that we give all kids the supports and services that they need, and that those supports and services are of high quality."

Mindnich said surveys consistently show strong public support for improving children's health and education. Investments in quality programs for children also would more than pay for themselves, in terms of preparing them to enter adulthood with increased earnings, which means more tax revenue for the state and a stronger overall economy.

The report is online at childrennow.org.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA