Introduction

COVID-19 has ravaged Los Angeles County and unequally impacted low-income communities of color, particularly children and families who had already been facing racial and economic disparities before the pandemic. This public health crisis has precipitated a financial crisis with massive increases in unemployment, especially in communities still reeling from the effects of the Great Recession less than a decade ago. The damage from the pandemic is deepening, despite, and at times because of, vaccinations, social distancing, and mask-wearing policy and programs plus the public behavior. Over 600,000 people have lost their lives, and there has been unprecedented job loss, learning loss, and loss of socialization.

Coinciding with the pandemic, we have seen a movement come together to demand an end to state-sanctioned killings of unarmed Black people, excessive policing and police violence, and anti-Black racism. This movement is among many seeking to hold public representatives and systems more accountable to everyone they represent. 

 The State of the Child Report seeks to understand the conditions of children and families within this current moment and not shy away from talking about COVID-19 impacts, rampant police misconduct, or racism.

The report takes a hard look at how children are faring against the backdrop of the twin crises that have swept the nation over the past year. It identifies conditions we should celebrate and those we should advocate improving. It also shows how public systems affect conditions in the community and arms community members with data needed to affect change. The report sets a baseline for measurement that can guide future investments and policy decisions. Data, derived from many disparate sources, are consolidated in one place on this report’s web companion at THIS WEBSITE .COM.

Brought together through the First 5 LA Best Start Initiative, The Nonprofit Partnership and a steering committee of community-based organizations in the Central Long Beach and Wilmington areas collaborated to create this report. With a place-based focus, First 5 LA identified Central Long Beach and Wilmington for targeted birth-to-five outcome investment in what is known as Best Start Region 4. These organizations and others have spent years organizing, power-building, and winning campaigns to change systems to improve the lives of children and families.

The State of the Child Report aims to strengthen the advocacy efforts of these organizations in the public education, health, criminal justice, and economic systems and systems governing the built environment. This report creates a shared picture of what children and families face and elevates the visibility of these issues. It can help strengthen coordination of advocacy and movement-building efforts across the Central Long Beach and Wilmington communities and support opportunities for fundraising to ensure advocates have the resources they need to help children and families thrive.

Methodology

Understanding the well-being of children requires a holistic approach to account for the different areas of life that, with equitable access and sufficient resources, set a child up for success. Given the current public health crises and political climate, it is crucial not to lose focus on the impacts on children in the short and long term. This report and analysis focus on data that belong in six domains: demographics, education, economic wellness, built environment, health, and child safety to illustrate the condition of children in Central Long Beach and Wilmington.

  • Demographics: The demographics of children and families in Region 4 serve as the foundation for understanding children. This issue area aims to highlight that these communities are racially and socioeconomically diverse, making for nuanced experiences.
  • Education: The education indicators included follow a child’s education journey: ECE access, 3rd grade English and Math proficiency, high school graduation rates, chronic absenteeism, and college readiness (based on CSU/UC Requirements). These are just some of the factors measuring the future success of children in Region 4.
  • Economic: The economic wellness of a family impacts the opportunities a child has access to and their ability to succeed in living a healthy and prosperous life. The section aims to highlight who is impacted by economic barriers such as rent burden and how workforce designs like remote opportunities are limited to those with broadband internet access.
  • Built Environment: Built environment figures with infrastructure and place-based designs that impact the health and safety of children and families in Central Long Beach and Wilmington, including environmental pollutants in the areas.
  • Health: Health is an area that gives correlative measurements for the impacts of poor air quality, lack of resources to healthy foods, and more.
  • Child Safety: Child safety begins an underlying conversation that opportunities for families to live healthy lives and support their children for success need to emphasize the community feeling safe and welcome.   

We compiled this report and analysis using current research findings, community partner-led ideas, and data analysis in collaboration with community partners. First, we performed a literature review of other reports studying the conditions of children. The Conditions of Children in Orange County reports¹ were a key inspiration for this report and a source for potential indicators. Next, we asked our steering committee of First 5 LA Best Start Region 4 partners for indicators and issues that were known to be of importance to the Central Long Beach community. Then, we compiled and visualized data for these indicators and held sensemaking sessions with community partners to understand the data from a local context and align analysis with current and future campaigns. The three primary sources of data are the American Community Survey (ACS), the Los Angeles County Health Survey (LACHS), and California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). See this report’s web companion at THIS WEBSITE .COM. for details about all data presented.  We analyzed the data for these indicators and held sensemaking sessions with community partners to understand the data from a local context and align analysis with current and future campaigns. The three primary sources of data are the American Community Survey (ACS), the Los Angeles County Health Survey (LACHS), and California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). See this report’s web companion at THIS WEBSITE .COM. for details about all data presented.

¹Orange County Children’s Partnership, “The 26th Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County,” 2020, https://www.ssa.ocgov.com/about/media/occp/report.

Data Limitations

Each data source in this report is publicly available and shows the most updated data available for the areas of interest. Nonetheless, the data available does not capture the full picture of Central Long Beach and Wilmington.

Geography Level Limitations

Not all data are available for Central Long Beach, Wilmington, or approximations (see captions of each visual for the geography used). Where not available, statistics for the nearest city, board district, service planning area, or other geography are used. Compared to their surrounding areas, Central Long Beach and Wilmington are lower-income communities with fewer resources and more racial/ethnic diversity. More regional estimates may appear relatively less diverse or more resourced. However, racial breakdowns of those data will give deeper insights into Central Long Beach and Wilmington. For example, regional estimates of healthy and affordable food access are similar to estimates for Los Angeles County as a whole. When regional estimates are broken down by race, however, differences in access by race are apparent. We can infer but cannot know if Central Long Beach and Wilmington estimates would more closely approximate regional estimates for the predominant racial groups in Central Long Beach and Wilmington. Further data production and research could confirm or provide alternatives to these inferences. The lack of disaggregated racial data for Central Long Beach and Wilmington for specific analyses in the report highlights the need for more robust data collection efforts by larger systems to ensure that racial disparities, and ultimately, the lived experiences of community members, are accurately captured by data. For more details on geographies and how each estimate in this report is calculated, see this report’s web companion at THIS WEBSITE .COM.

Racial/Ethnic Groups Disaggregation

Data is not always available by racial/ethnic groups and/or available to disaggregate for distinct racial/ethnic groups. Central Long Beach and Wilmington are regions with diverse populations and understanding the nuance of experiences communities face is vital for inclusive policies and strategic initiatives. For all data that was available by race, there are visuals with the breakdown and rates to understand how communities of color are disparately impacted by specific systems. In addition, each visual has a note on racial categories with an emphasis on showing data for Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) and American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) populations, two groups that are often marked as “Other”. However, specific populations may be represented in the region but not found in the data. For example, Central Long Beach has a large Cambodian population classified as Asian, masking important differences. The Cambodian population and other populations that are currently not adequately represented in public datasets need to be in future data conversations. Another group that is also not always represented in the data sources available include undocumented populations. Undocumented populations are likely to be undercounted if represented in data sources, and both regions are home to undocumented persons.

The community-based organizations highlighted in this report help provide contextual information above and beyond data limitations here. The data in this report aim to uplift the stories and narratives heard from community partners by providing data as a supplement to these important, meaningful and ongoing conversations.