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California’s approximately 1 million children with special health care needs depend on an array of health care providers, institutions and programs to obtain the best possible care and reach their maximum health potential. Unfortunately, health care in California is not meeting the needs of many of these children, especially those whose families have fewer resources and whose medical conditions are complex.

Compared with their national counterparts, children with special health care needs in California are receiving care that is less coordinated, less family-centered, and fails to meet a number of key quality indicators set forth by the Federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The cumulative impact felt by families—on employment, on time spent caring for their children, on family finances—is more acute in California than in the rest of the nation as well.

This report, prepared by the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative under the direction of Christina Bethell, provides a summary of the most recent data. See data from this report, plus additional data about children with special health care needs, at


Related Grants

Findings from a survey of California-based caregivers that asked them about their experiences receiving peer support for caring for children and youth with special health care needs.

This fact sheet explains the methods used in a study of California caregivers of CYSHCN, including the study’s purpose, survey instrument, sample, survey distribution, data analysis, and more.