The Health Cohort was established to focus on recruiting faculty with the research and service skills and experience for evaluating and responding to the causes of the chronic conditions that affect the physical and emotional health of the valley's children and adults. To continually serve those in need as opposed to identifying and correcting causes is like ladling an ever filling bucket with a slotted spoon. The causes, the spigot, producing problems must be addressed and corrected. This can only occur through basic and applied research into the health conditions omnipresent in the community.
The San Joaquin Valley is home to nearly one million children who live in urban centers, rural communities, suburbs, and unincorporated areas. They are diverse as the settings in which they live they are more similar across counties than different when it comes to health status, educational attainment, personal safety and overall well-being. Child poverty is a consistent theme within all of the Central Valley Counties (Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare counties). On average, 31% of Valley youth (birth -17 years) live below the Federal poverty level, as compared to California's rate of 24% (Census Bureau, 2011). Likely confounding this issue is the Valley's rate of unemployment, which ranges from 13-16% as compared to California's 11%. These combined issues set up children in the Valley to experience numerous risk factors to their health and well-being. In about half of the Valley counties, children experience the highest asthma rates in California (kidsdata.org). For adolescents (7th-11th grades), 8-11% of Valley students self-identify as gang members as compared to 7% for California (California Health Kids Survey). The vast majority of Valley Counties (e.g., six of eight) have the highest rates of teen births in California. Central Valley Counties also have high school dropout rates of 15-20% (California's rate is 15%) and only 24-36% of Central Valley high school students have completed college prep courses as compared to California's rate of 37%.
The common thread among the initial positions in the Health Cohort is the Central California Children's Institute (CCCI) that CHHS, CSM, JCAST, COSS, and KSOEHD collaboratively support and operate. The first year's research from CCCI produced a document of the serious needs in the valley. The focus areas identified in Children of the Valley: Framing a Regional Agenda included psychosocial and emotional health, social behaviors, and parent involvement. Childhood obesity in the Valley along with adequate nutrition has been identified as a serious problem because of its interaction with the extreme poverty existing here. Success in addressing these issues will depend on strong working partnerships of the members of the regional community, led by faculty researchers and activists who can use the CCCI to leverage resources to promote a healthier future for the region's children and other residents.
More information coming soon...
Until then please feel free to contact:
Jody Hironaka-Juteau, Ed.D.
College of Health and Human Services
2345 E. San Ramon Avenue M/S MH26
Fresno California 93740-8031
Phone: (559) 278-4004
Fax: (559) 278-4427
Cassandra L. Joubert, Sc.D.
Director and Professor
Central California Children's Institute
California State University, Fresno
1625 East Shaw Avenue, Suite 146
Fresno, California 93710-8106
Phone (559) 228-2166
Fax (559) 228-2168