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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

This issue brief identifies inconsistencies within the federal laws governing access to pediatric at-home care and provides recommendations for how states can provide access and high-quality care to children at home.

Drawn from a scan of all 50 U.S. states, this brief published by the National Academy for State Health Policy highlights strategies designed to address inequities in accessing pediatric specialty care and support equitable systems of care for CYSHCN.