SACRAMENTO — A new report by the California Budget & Policy Center highlights how racist policies and practices have led to disproportionate COVID-19 infection and death rates for Californians of color, and why state policymakers must declare racism a public health crisis to advance health equity.
Accessing health care, food assistance, transportation, and helping Californians pay for other basic necessities as they build job skills and find stable work — this is the role of health and human services. The Budget Center analyzes spending and related policies on health and human services, highlighting areas where greater public investment is critical as well as ways to boost access to connect people to these essential supports.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the depths and reach of racism on the health of children, families, and individuals, with communities of color in California experiencing higher rates of illness, death, and overall hardship due to the virus. This devastation must be the catalyst for California policymakers to acknowledge that racism has caused lasting and negative impacts on communities of color. While some local policymakers in California have declared racism as a public health crisis, there has not been a declaration at the state level. This Report provides a high level overview on how health inequities are a direct consequence of historic and ongoing racism.
As families across California struggle with COVID-19, it is increasingly critical that children have the resources they need at birth to lay the foundation for lifelong well-being. Assets such as family, health, and financial resources are strongly associated with child health and resilience, and with fewer harmful experiences such as involvement in the child welfare system. When children are exposed to adverse experiences and toxic stress, early intervention tools like evidence-based home visiting can reduce or prevent negative outcomes.
Nearly 1 in 4 California low-income households with children surveyed from late August through October reported sometimes or often not having enough food to eat, according to data from the US Census Bureau looking at how COVID-19 is affecting households.
In California, an estimated 334,000 children (3.6%) lacked health coverage in 2019 — up from a low of 3.1% in 2016. Uninsured rates are highest among American Indian/ Alaskan Native children (6.9%) and Latinx children (4.4%).