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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

‘Whole Child’ Gimmick Is Health Socialism


Can California further socialize the raising of children, reducing the parents’ role even more? Yes, it can. In the May Revision to his budget proposal for fiscal year 2023-24, Gov. Gavin Newsom advances what’s called “Whole Child” health care:

“The state is reasonably positioned to sustain the continued multi-year implementation of the California for All Kids plan—a whole child framework to close opportunity gaps by accelerating learning and investing in the educator workforce while providing universal access to early learning, before and after school care, comprehensive nutrition services, and increasing the number of community schools in high-needs communities.”

The California Legislative Analyst’s recent report, “Whole Child Model Expansion,” ignores the program’s socialist intent and result. Whole Child means the government takes over everything about the child—psychology, health, and nutrition. As the LAO describes it:

“The Whole Child Model, currently implemented in 21 counties, integrates children’s specialty care services provided in the California Children’s Services (CCS) program into Medi-Cal managed care. The Governor proposes trailer bill legislation to expand the Whole Child Model to 15 additional counties.”

The LAO’s main concern is only about the money:

“Given the complex policy considerations at hand, we recommend the Legislature act cautiously with this proposal and consider deferring some or all of the proposed expansion as it weighs its long-term policy plans for CCS. Moving forward, we recommend the Legislature begin contemplating its long-term plans for CCS, focusing on an approach that best coordinates care for beneficiaries, improves the existing shortcomings in CCS, and is cost-effective. Moreover, the Legislature likely will want to minimize variation across the state in how CCS services are delivered, allowing for variation only where a clear rationale exists.”

That is, even more socialist centralization is needed, with “variation” minimized. Which means more conservative counties, such as those in rural areas, would be brought under central control.

Epoch Times Photo
Students on their lunch break at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles on April 27, 2021. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

National Gimmick

Whole Child isn’t just a California socialist gimmick, but a national one. The American Association of Pediatrics in January released a Clinical Practical Guideline (CPG) on the very real problem of childhood obesity. Their summary:

“The CPG reflects a ‘whole child’ approach. Sections on risk factors and evaluation acknowledge the multiple influences that can lead to excess weight and influence treatment efforts. In addition to individual and familial risk factors, broader structural and contextual inequities not only contribute to obesity risk but also impede treatment success.”

Note the “familial risk factors.” Is Mom cooking the wrong food? Are the kids chowing down on too many candy bars? Does the family have time in the evening only for a Happy Meals drive-thru?

The irony is most kids now eat two meals a day at public school under the state’s California Universal Meals Program. The California Department of Education explains: “Pillar One: California’s State Meal Mandate is expanded to include both a nutritiously adequate breakfast and lunch for, not just needy children, but all children each school day.”

But what about the vast ethnic diversity of students in schools? According to Los Angeles Almanac, there are 98 different languages spoken in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Those reflect at least 98 different cultures—as Spanish, for example, includes dozens of different cultures in Spain and Latin America, as well as some Filipinos.

But there are numerous studies on how eating the cuisine of one’s own ethnic heritage reduces obesity. For example, in 2019 the Journal of Transcultural Nursing published “Cultural Influences on Childhood Obesity in Ethnic Minorities: A Qualitative Systematic Review.” It found:

“Cultural care practices such as traditional foods and family meals are protective factors in childhood obesity and should be encouraged by nurses caring for and working with ethnic minority populations.”

Instead of pushing kids to wolf down two mass-produced, socialist meals at school, they instead should be encouraged to eat their own ethnic foods at home—and bring a bag lunch. Doing so would improve kids’ health far more than anything from the Whole Child scheme.

Epoch Times Photo
California Gov. Gavin Newsom talks with 7th grade students at James Denman Middle School in San Francisco on Oct. 1, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Whole Child Ideology

The Heritage Foundation came out with an analysis of Whole Child in March, “Forget Parents, Here’s What This ‘Whole Child’ Ideology Really Promotes.” It commented on the AAP obesity study:

“Two aspects of the ‘whole child’ agenda go together. The first is the push to rely on medical intervention over lifestyle changes and counseling. The second is the willingness to take decision-making power from parents and give it to unelected, unaccountable administrators.

“‘Whole child’ is shorthand for the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) program. It’s funded by actors such as the United Nations, Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Education Association, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), and has partnerships with medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). …

“WSCC’s emphasis on the ‘whole’ child is nothing short of a collectivist ideology. The goal is to make government-run schools, not the family or the home, the central tenet of a child’s life. It would place all medical records, access to healthcare, and social services within each K-12 school.”

Conclusion: School Choice Needed

Whole Child is part of the move to push aside American families and put the government in charge of children. Aside from the LAO’s concern over the added expense of expanding the program, Whole Child also explains why the state spends on average $23,483 per student but gets pathetic results on test scores.

The money is going to the wrong curricula, the wrong pedagogy, and the wrong approach to student health. What’s needed is a full-scale school-choice program, such as Arizona’s universal school voucher program, now also being considered in Iowa.

But for that, the immense power of the teachers unions would have to be reduced and the state’s socialist mentality jettisoned.

John Seiler’s email: [email protected]

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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