California ranks low in providing special-needs care to children

California children with special healthcare needs receive worse care than those in most other states, according to an analysis by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.

The foundation ranked California 46th in effective coordination of medical care and 50th for referrals to specialty care.

Children with chronic physical, developmental or emotional problems need special care. About 1 million such children live in California, according to the Palo Alto-based foundation, which was founded in 1997 to increase the quality and accessibility of children’s healthcare. More than 40% of children with complex health needs have trouble finding doctors and getting appointments, the report said.

California families with a special-needs child also are more likely to stop working than those in other states, and they have more trouble finding child care, medical equipment, transportation and consistent health insurance.

While some of the children’s illnesses can be managed by medication, others require much more intensive or even round-the-clock care. The children with the most complex needs are less likely to get the services they need, according to the analysis.


Most of the children are insured, but families say they often have high out-of-pocket costs.