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Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division

California Title V Program Investing in Better Child Health Data

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What is the National Survey of Children's Health?

“The National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) provides rich data on multiple, intersecting aspects of children’s lives—including physical and mental health, access to quality health care, and the child’s family, neighborhood, school, and social context.” 1 The annual NSCH collects information about children in the U.S. and is administered through a collaboration between the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Why Does California Need These Data?

NSCH data collected in California provide essential information on a wide range of topics related to the health of families, adolescents and children, including children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) – from physical health and wellbeing to developmental screening, mental health, adverse childhood experiences and family resilience. The survey includes over 300 indicators and is a key data source for monitoring performance and outcome measures for California’s Title V Block Grant (federal funding for maternal and child health services). 

However, California’s annual sample size (the number of people who complete the survey) is relatively small. This makes it impossible to reliably break down the data by geographic area or by characteristics such as race/ethnicity. To better represent the diversity of our state's population and understand health disparities, California needs a larger sample size for the survey.

What is an Oversample?

An oversample means we will collect more data from California residents. In a typical year, about 3,300 California addresses are invited to participate in the NSCH. These addresses are chosen through a process called sampling, which aims to represent California’s diverse population. To increase California’s sample size, the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Division of the California Department of Public Health is partnering with HRSA and the U.S. Census Bureau to sample thousands of additional addresses across the state. This approach will result in a larger sample size, leading to increased data reliability at the state level and making select data available by county or region.

How Will We Use and Share These Data?

These data will be an incredible asset to child-serving organizations and programs across California. MCAH will use these data to target and inform programs, to share with local agencies via data dashboards, and to better understand health disparities and the needs of children and families across the state. State-level data will be made publicly available via the national Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health . To protect confidentiality, sub-state level data will have a separate process for access through the federal government and must be approved by the Census Bureau’s Disclosure Review Board prior to public release. MCAH expects to receive the oversample data in fall of 2023.

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