State Ranks at the Bottom for Providing Services to Its 1 Million Kids with Special Needs

Friday, January 18, 2013

Around half of California’s 1 million children with special needs don’t receive “effective coordination” of their medical treatments, earning the state a national ranking of 46th, according to a report sponsored by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.

That’s actually a tad better than the state’s 50th ranking in the percentage of children who have problems obtaining referrals for specialty care. Most have insurance, but 41% have inconsistent and inadequate coverage to meet their needs. Around 80% of the state’s special needs kids receive care that does not meet federal minimum quality standards.  

One in 10 children in California has special needs. Their chronic afflictions include asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and cerebral palsy and require medical equipment, medication, transportation, special education, medical care and a range of services.  

Families in California are more likely than those in any other states to quit their jobs or reduce their hours in order to care for their kids. Children with the most problems and complex needs have the most trouble obtaining critical services, the report said.

California tends to have fewer children with special needs than other states as a percentage of the child population, but those they do have tend to have more complex problems than the rest of the nation. Nearly 30% of California special needs kids have conditions that affect their daily lives “greatly and/or consistently.”

Although children with special needs make up only 16% of the national youth population, they are responsible for 40% of children’s costs.  

The report is an analysis of data collected in 2009/10 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs and is a follow-up to one published in 2010 that found similar dismal care for special needs children in California.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

California Ranks Low in Providing Special-Needs Care to Children (by Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times)

Children with Special Health Care Needs in California 2013 (The Child and Adolescent Health Measure Initiative) (pdf)

Children with Special Health Care Needs 2010 (The Child and Adolescent Health Measure Initiative) (pdf)

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