November 2013 marked the 15-year anniversary of the passage of Proposition 10 that established the Children and Families Commission of Orange County and the First 5 Commissions at counties throughout the state of California. The Orange County Commission set out to make a difference in the lives of young children and established the vision that remains relevant today: all children are healthy and ready to learn.
In fiscal year 2015/16, the Commission allocated more than $24 million to fund programs for young children. Children ages 0-5 received more than 2 million services, while their family members received more than 1 million services.
The results of the Commission’s investments made since its inception has changed the landscape of services for children and families in Orange County.
Investing In Prenatal Care Means Healthier Babies
Since 1998, the percentage of mothers receiving early prenatal care has risen steadily, meeting the Healthy People 2010 Objective of 90% in 2002. Since reaching a high of 92% in 2003, the rate remained steady but then dropped to 88% in 2007. While the rate continues to stand below the Healthy People 2010 Objective of 90%, there has been a 3% increase in early prenatal care rates since 1998. The partnership with MOMS Orange County, an agency dedicated to early prenatal care for high risk mothers, has significantly contributed to this growth. Women who receive early prenatal care are more than twice as likely to not give birth to a low birth weight baby as women who do not receive early prenatal care.
Increased Immunization Rates Lowers Risk of Childhood Illness and Disease
The percentage of children adequately immunized at two years of age in Orange County reached 81% in 2009, the highest level on record. Over the past 10 years, there has been a 23% increase overall, with an average annual increase of 2 percent.
Early Intervention and Treatment has Long-term Benefits for Children and Families
Based on the national average, more than 45,000 Orange County children from birth to age 5 would be impacted by developmental and behavioral issues. The Commission has increased the number of children receiving developmental screenings and access to necessary resources. Among Orange County parents of children ages one through five, 23% have completed a standardized developmental screening for their child, similar to the statewide average.
More Children Get the Health Care Access They Need
Almost all (97%) of Orange County children from birth through age 5 had health insurance coverage in 2007. In addition fully 98% of Orange County children ages 0 to 5 had a health care home (a consistent place for medical care) in 2007. The usual source of care for Orange County children 0-5 is a doctor’s office, HMO or Kaiser (79%), followed by a community clinic, government clinic or community hospital (18%).
Children are Safer Today
Since 1997, there has been a 39% reduction in the number of accidental deaths in Orange County for children under 5 years of age, compared with only a 7% decrease for children ages 5 to 20. This improvement is even starker in comparison with the reduction in this rate for children under age 5 statewide, which was only 2%. In partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics local chapter and community agencies, families received information about the importance of car safety and safety in the home.
Reading Scores Improve Across the County
Average reading scores among second graders have improved substantially since 2002. This positive data is partially offset when trends are segregated by income level. An average achievement gap of about 53 points exist between non-economically disadvantaged students and economically disadvantaged students for second grade reading scores. Through targeted community investments, the Commission is working to improve children’s readiness for school in areas needing it the most.
Reading at Home Remains Strong
Sixty-one percent (61%) of Orange County parents reported reading to their 0-5 children every day in 2007, according to California Health Interview Survey data (CHIS) data. Overall, the average Academic Performance index (API) score among Orange County School Districts, now 822, rose 15% over the last ten years. The Commission has invested significant resources in Santa Ana to improve the health and success of this community’s children and families. From intensive home-based services, such as HABLA, to increased health services at various community clinics to early literacy pilots, Santa Ana has been a geographic hub for the Commission’s investments, and the cumulative impact of these services is beginning to show in the second grade reading scores and in API scores. Overall, Santa Ana has shown a 42% improvement in API scores since 2000.
10-fold Increase in Warm, Safe Beds for Homeless Families
Between July 2004 and June 2010, the Commission funded 385,366 bed nights (a bed night refers to one person receiving shelter for one night).
Helping more Families Become Self-Sufficient
Between July 2005 and June 2010, the Commission’s funded partners helped 569 families secure housing and live independently. Additionally, these families were linked with support services such as childcare, health insurance, medical and dental homes, mental health counseling, and financial management assistance. These additional services are critical components of a family’s ability to remain self sufficient.
Serving more Families in Crisis
In addition to funding construction of new transitional housing facilities, the Commission also assists organizations to provide outreach and support services to homeless families in immediate crisis. These include the following agencies/programs:
211 Orange County
Orange County Department of Education
OC Rescue Mission – Strong Beginnings Program
Illumination Foundation – Motel Outreach Program