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Strong Start Index

Variable Definitions:
Strong Start Index Score: An index ranging from zero to 12 that measures the family, health, service, and financial assets available to children at birth.

Source:
USC School of Social Work Children’s Data Network

Years Available:
2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Why are these variables important to measure?

California Strong Start Index (CASSI) Score
The California Strong Start Index (CASSI) summarizes the conditions into which children are born through variables that measure family, health, service, and financial assets available to a child. These measures are added together to create “birth asset scores” ranging from zero to 12 that allow you to compare these resources across communities. Low scores are associated with two indicators of child well being: involvement with child protective services or death by age 5. Therefore, lower scores can help identify which communities may benefit from additional support.

Understanding the conditions into which children are born is critical for understanding early childhood development. By age five, a child’s brain has grown to 90% of the size of an adult’s brain and developed more during those first few years than at any other time in their life. During this critical period, brains build neural connections between cells that influence how children move, communicate, emote, and think. This process, in turn, lays the foundation for healthy, capable, and successful adults.

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