Groups work to improve children services in Kern County

Scorecard results released from Children Now

BAKERSFIELD - Compared to other communities around California, children in Kern County are in the bottom third when it comes to children attending pre-school, reading at grade level and access to healthcare, but work to improve those numbers is currently in progress.

The scorecard is out and it’s helping several organizations plan out the future.

"There are so many different ways to try and approach this from family intervention and medical intervention, education and the cost of healthier foods," said Jan Hefner, director of community wellness programs at Mercy and Memorial Hospitals.

The report released by Children Now finds the well-being of kids in Kern County improving in a majority of areas from meeting or exceeding state standards in Math to having adult supervision after school.  But, the trend is getting worse in categories such as eligible students who eat free or reduced price meals during the summer and kids who are in a healthy weight zone.

"We are seeing more and more kids who are obese or in danger of becoming obese in this county and it’s a trend that many of us have noticed for a long time," she said.

Although trends in some areas are getting worse and other staying the same as last year, area service providers plan to work together to improve programs.  First 5 Kern is one of the groups making services available to families in rural Kern County.

"Kern County is kind of large geographically and so you have outline areas where our services are very hard to come by and a lot of times families are faced with having to travel into Bakersfield so, one of the things we do is we bring those service out to them so, they have access to them and take transportation out of play," said Jamie Henderson, executive director of First 5 Kern.

The organization publishes its own findings every year and they say the results are similar.

"There's always room for important and that's what first 5 is about, specially reaching out to our children pre-natal to five because as you know those first 5 years are incredible important," he said.

Hospitals in Kern County are working on a similar report officials plan to release in the next few months.  It will show the biggest needs in the community and how services can be improved.

For more information on the Children Now report: http://scorecard.childrennow.org/2012/

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