The Modesto Bee

Children’s health in California's Central Valley

Location: Modesto, Calif.

About the News Organization: The Modesto Bee, a McClatchy news organization, serves primarily the city of Modesto, Stanislaus County, and its surrounding cities and counties in the heart of California’s Central Valley and the Sierra foothills. The Bee has a rich, 134-year history of serving a diverse community built on agriculture with an eye on diversifying employment sectors in hopes of fending off the “brain drain” that sees many of our youngest and brightest leave for college and never return. Our mission is to connect with readers each day to discover and report on the issues that touch their lives.

About the Position: Childhood asthma, obesity, and food insecurity are big issues in Modesto and throughout the Central Valley. Stanislaus, and nearby Tuolumne County, also are among the California counties with the highest number of emergency room visits by children with dental issues, according to the California Department of Public Health. More than 300,000 kids in the Central Valley live in poverty. With the opening next spring of Valley Children’s Specialty Care Center, a new 40,000 square-foot campus on the town’s north side, there is a special focus on children’s health in Modesto. The Report for America corps member placed in the Modesto Bee will focus on children’s health – both physical and mental – and explore how the paper can inform, educate and help bring about a healthier community.

This reporter will work in concert with local schools, state and county health and environmental agencies and local hospitals and our new care center to identify current issues and solutions in children’s health. Their focus will be on both daily stories that arise to mid-term projects on single subjects. The reporter would be deployed throughout the community and report with the understanding that what is or isn’t working in Modesto/Stanislaus County is likely not working in Sacramento, Merced or Fresno. Ideally, this reporter will also employ video and database reporting to help readers better visualize this issue. This reporter will report to managing editor Patty Guerra. However, they will also receive tutelage from Ken Carlson, a respected health reporter, who will help guide coverage and provide mentorship and contacts that will allow this reporter to hit the ground running.