Conditions of Children in California

Chapter Highlights
Michael W. Kirst
Stanford University
Richard P. Barth
University of Maryland
Marianne Berry
Center on the Family
Claire Brindis
Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies
Thomas G. David
The James Irvine Foundation
John W. Evans
San Joaquin Delta College
W. Norton Grubb
University of California, Berkeley
James W. Guthrie
Policy Analysis for California Education
Neal Halfon
University of California, Los Angeles


This report is an attempt to assemble a set of social indicators that suggest an overall portrait of the quality of California's children. It synthesizes material not readily available to policy­ makers; points out gaps in available data; and, where appropriate, offers limited policy recommendations. Data are included on physical and mental health, physical safety, sexual behavior, and academic achievement. Because children are largely dependent upon settings and services controlled by adults, the report also attempts to evaluate the conditions of the settings in which children develop—families, daycare facilities. schools, and neighborhoods—and addresses the systems that serve children, such as heath and welfare services, justice systems, and private organizations.

Recent polls indicate that three out of four American adults feel that problems facing children are worse today than in decades past. Most think that parents and schools are not doing a satisfactory job of child-rearing. Moreover, the chief executives of 225 American corporations have expressed concern about the likelihood of an "expanding educational underclass." In spite of these perceptions, it is clear that most children in the nation and in California are healthier, wealthier, and better schooled than were their earlier counterparts. Is there really cause for concern? Is the condition of children better or worse? Or both?

Suggested citationKirst, M. W., Barth, R. P., Berry, M., Brindis, C., David, T. G., Evans, J. W., Grubb, W. N., Guthrie, J. W., & Halfon, N. (1989, February). Conditions of children in California: Chapter highlights [Report]. Policy Analysis for California Education.