STOCKTON, Calif — About once a week, Brianna Ambriz and her son, Vincent, hang out at the Stockton Children's Museum. For Ambriz, who has a yearly membership to the museum, the trips are a chance for her son to get out and enjoy time with other people.

Ambriz said that there are plenty of opportunities for children in Stockton. But, a recent study from Brandeis University out of Massachusetts, labeled Stockton the fourth worst city in the country to raise a child.

"If you're not going out and looking for those resources, then there won't be much for you to do," Ambriz told ABC10.

The study scored 100 metropolitan cities across the country, where the say two-thirds of kids reside. The study showed that, among the cities surveyed, Stockton is one of the worst at promoting health and development in children.

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Bakersfield ranked the worst overall.

The study looked at access to neighborhood conditions like good schools, safe parks, playgrounds and clean air.

More than half of children in the Stockton-Lodi area live in low to very low opportunity neighborhoods, according to the study. Only 5% lived in the high opportunity category.

"You see low opportunity areas in the central city and higher opportunity areas in the surrounding suburbs," said Clemens Noelke, the study's research director for Brandeis University.

How can Stockton improve on its ranking?

Noelke said cities like Stockton can work on better access to early childhood education, as well as better access to affordable housing.

As for the city, leaders said more can be done to change that perception, calling the study a "good wake up call."

"The good thing about this city is we are well aware of the challenges that we face," said Connie Cochran, spokesperson for the city of Stockton.

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Cochran said Stockton has applied for a state grant to help improve public health, the environment, the economy and more, establishing "opportunity zones" to identify underserved areas.

Bob Margoron runs The Center, an after-school program for kids in those same underserved areas. Margoron and his wife Lisa have run The Center for 25 years.

Margoron said he's not surprised by the study's results.

"A lot of the families we work with are great families," Margoron said. "They really do love their kids whether they're involved in gangs or not. They just don't have the tools in their tool box to support them and help them."

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Kurt Rivera.


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