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Santa Monica Takes an Important Step Towards Improving Services for Youth

A new report shows important data which will be used by a collaboration of City, school and community leaders to improve the wellbeing of youth in our community.

How are children in Santa Monica doing? We now have some clear data on the status of our youth ages 0 to 24 years old thanks to the newly released Youth Wellbeing Report Card .  This first of its kind report for Santa Monica was produced by the Cradle to Career Initiative, a collaboration of the City of Santa Monica, SMMUSD and SMC.

“It's going to lead to something extraordinary down the line,” Mayor Richard Bloom proclaimed at a briefing held last week. “This great document provides a baseline to look at where youth now stand. From there we can begin to strategize on how to improve our outcomes.”

The report is divided into four key areas: physical development, learning, social skills and mental health.  It also contains demographics about our youth.

Here is what we do right: our kids are generally healthy.  95% of children who enter kindergarten are immunized and 81% of SMMUSD students pass at least 4 out of 6 state test fitness components.  Teen pregnancy rate is low. We have a 91% graduation rate and three-fourths of those go on to complete college admission (CSU/UC) requirements.

One area where the data shows room for improvement is in kindergarten readiness.  According to data collected from kindergarten teachers at our eight elementary schools, 30% of kindergartners were assessed as very ready within or across at least four of the five domains based on the Early Development Instrument (EDI).  There is a feeling that in our community more children should be highly ready for kindergarten. 

The data also revealed that of SMMUSD students surveyed in grades 7, 9 and 11, on average 37% report that they do not have a caring relationship with a teacher or other adult at school.  Nearly one-third of older youth experience long episodes of extreme sadness and hopelessness, and the level of alcohol use for 11th graders is higher than the countywide level.

These problems won’t be fixed overnight, but with this data, a collaboration of school, City, business and community leaders will be able to collectively come up with a plan to improve the overall wellness of our children.

SMMUSD Superintendent Sandy Lyons said she is excited about this new and unique conversation.  “We can’t do it alone… the way for us to impact youth in Santa Monica is that we do it collectively.”

The next steps will include community engagement.  If you would like to schedule an in-person briefing on the report card findings, email humanservices@smgov.net, or call 310-458-8701.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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