Monday, June 29, 2009

A New Paper on Defining "What Works"

Important questions about what is meant by "evidence based" are raised in new paper by Katya Fels Smyth and Lisbeth B. Schorr of Harvard's Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy called A Lot to Lose: A Call to Rethink What Constitutes “Evidence” in Finding Social Interventions That Work . The authors outline why it is important to consider different kinds of evidence and different methodologies when deciding "What Works".
A growing emphasis on accountability has led policy makers, funders, practitioners and researchers to demand greater evidence that program models “work” and that public and private dollars invested are generating relevant results that can be directly attributed to the given intervention. ... The authors describe the characteristics of What It Takes organizations, which their work suggests support lasting change in the lives of highly marginalized and vulnerable people. They describe the ways [to] ... ensure greater accountability without reducing the chances that those who need help the most will have access to programs that support meaningful, lasting change.
For research-informed policies to improve outcomes for kids and families.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How Policymakers Can Work with Foundations to Reduce Poverty

A recent edition of the Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families "Making the Link" series examines
the role foundations can play in state and local policy efforts to reduce poverty. The brief also profiles four cases in which grantmakers are already collaborating with policymakers.
For policies to reduce poverty.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Race and the Recession

The Applied Research Center has issued a new report on Race and Recession which
tells the stories of people of color who are disproportionately affected by the recession. It uncovers root causes of long-term racial inequities that fed into the economic crisis. It proposes structural solutions to change a system that threatens future generations. [The report finds that] the distribution of the recession’s worst results is not random. Rather, the conditions that create this disparity are structural, deeply embedded into the rules, the histories and the cultural currents of this country.
For policies to address racial disproportionality in juvenile justice and child welfare.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Effects of Foreclosures on Families, and Solutions for Policymakers

In the midst of this tumultuous housing market, the Urban Institute recently released a brief report, The Impacts of Foreclosures on Families and Communities: A Primer, detailing its longer analysis of the effects of home foreclosures. The report studies the impact of foreclosures on families and their communities, as well as current and planned policies and programming aimed at mitigating their consequences. For local officials and advocates looking to get involved in responding to the foreclosure crisis, this resource is an accessible and thorough review of current research and potential solutions.

For policies to reduce home foreclosures and their negative effects on communities and families.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Resource for State Policymakers on Helping Grandfamilies

A new national legal resource has been launched- the Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center. It is designed to provide technical assistance and training to state policymakers and advocates or other interested parties. The Center provides policy options to:

support relatives and the children in their care both within and outside the child welfare system. This resource center consists of:

  • a searchable database of current laws and pending legislation;
  • topical analyses, which include summaries and comparisons of state laws, legislative
  • trends, and practical advocacy and implementation information;
  • powerful personal stories from grandfamilies; and
  • other relevant internet resources.

For policies to support guardianship and prevent placement or safely move children out of foster care.

Monday, June 22, 2009

North Carolina Takes JobsNOW Online

We previously reported on the "12-6" jobs training program, an element of Governor Perdue's JobsNOW initiative, which "brings together state agencies, local governments, business leaders and citizens to create new jobs, put people back to work and train and retrain workers for success". Now they have launched the JobsNOW portal, an online resource for "anyone looking for a job, a new career, or to expand or create a business in North Carolina". For policies to improve job training.

(Hat tip to Front and Center)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Governor Patrick Engages Cititzens in Solving the State's Budget Crisis

The National Governors Association's weekly newsletter, Front and Center, recently featured a new approach to grassroots engagement. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick launched an Online Community Forum, to bring the state's citizens into the process of solving the budget crisis and bringing innovative ideas to government. The site describes this as a pioneering effort to create a dialogue between state government and citizens. For information on accountability through community engagement.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

10 Important Questions About Child Poverty

The National Center for Children in Poverty has developed a great new resource addressing the "frequently asked questions" about poverty. From "What does it mean to experience poverty?" to "What can be done to increase economic security for America's children and families?" this document provides a user-friendly summary of the current research. For policies to reduce child poverty.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Improving Preschool Even in Tough Economic Times

A new study by the Rand Corporation discusses how

California can improve its early childhood education system in an era of fiscal crisis and lay the foundation for improving access and quality in the future when more resources are available. Making low-cost improvements to the system now by adopting efficiencies and creating flexibility to better use existing resources would likely allow more needy children to enroll in government-supported preschool programs and position the system to move toward higher-quality programs once new funding becomes available, according to the report.
For policies to increase quality early care and education.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A New Look at Family Structure, Income and Outcomes

A new report by Child Trends examines family structure and income finding that in low-income families and in single parent families, both the parents and their children experience fewer positive outcomes. For recommendations on developing a "two generation" approach to policies.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tax Relief for Working Parents

The Urban Institute examines expanding EITC to noncustodial parents in a new paper. Recently enacted in New York and Washington, D.C. this new form of EITC extends the credit to low-income noncustodial parents who work and pay their full child support. The paper describes
the rationale for this policy and provides national estimates of the benefits and costs of an NCP EITC under three alternative policy scenarios. It also discusses several key design and implementation issues.
Policies to expand access to EITC.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice

The National Council of La Raza has issued a report that provides an in-depth look at disparities in the justice system, examines all the major decision points, looks at successful national initiatives, provides examples of community-based models, and makes state and federal policy recommendations. For policies to reduce racial disparites in juvenile detention.

(Hat tip to Reclaiming Futures blog.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

100 Voices/100 Days- How Are Children Doing?

The Annie E. Casey Foundation launched 100 Voices/100 Days, inviting concerned citizens to "speak up and tell us – in 100 words or less, or with a video clip lasting no more than two minutes – What is the most important thing that the Obama administration has done for children and families during this first 100 days? And what should be next on the agenda?" A wide range of perspectives are represented, from specific family policy issues to the economy. For policies to support a two generation approach to stimulus funding.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Two New Resources on Early Childhood for State Policymakers

Two excellent resources on early childhood for policymakers and policy wonks:
  • State Examples: The Center for Law and Social Policy has updated examples of states in eight policy areas; Establish Core Competencies; Provide Training, Education, and Support; Promote Continuity of Care; Compensation and Benefits; Support a Diverse and Culturally Competent Workforce; Promote Access to Comprehensive Services; Build Supply of Quality Care; and Stable, Quality Subsidy Policy.
  • State Legislation: The National Conference of State Legislatures has issued a report on the 2008 Early Care and Education legislative activities.

For policies focused on increasing quality early care and education.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Child Care Subsidies have Multiple Benefits for Parents and Children

Quality child care has an important child development benefit for young children. But in a fascinating report, originally published in the Journal of Family Economic Issues (J Fam Econ Iss (2009) 30:43–54), Nicole D. Forry looks at whether single parents themselves experience a significant benefit from child care subsidies. She found that
Approximately half of parents who received a subsidy reported that it positively affected their financial well-being, allowing them to afford non-child care services, save money, and pay bills or debts.
For child care policies to support family economic success.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Public Sector Results-based Innovation, A Critical Strategy in Tough Economic Times

The Public Innovator's Playbook published by Deloitte Research and the Harvard Kennedy School's Ash Institute, describes how governments "can address many of society's biggest challenges such as the current economic crisis by becoming better at innovating." The report stresses that the public sector can develop a disciplined methodology for innovation by focusing on outcomes, partnerships, organizational mission and structure, using "What Works", and integration. For more on using a results focus to drive public policy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Recession-induced Child Poverty Can Be Enduring

A new report from First Focus has found
that children who fall into poverty during a recession fare worse far into adulthood than their peers who avoided it altogether. Specifically, children who are forced into poverty earn less, achieve lower levels of education, and are less likely to be gainfully employed over their lifetimes than those who avoided poverty. In addition, these children are more likely to be in poor health as adults.
For policies to reduce child poverty.

(Hat tip to Connect for Kids)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How States Can Use Automation to Increase Health Coverage for Children

The Urban Institute has a very useful report out on how states can increase enrollment of children in health insurance programs. The report details automated strategies that have
achieved remarkable results with many public and private benefit programs, dramatically increasing program participation while lowering administrative costs and reducing erroneous eligibility determinations. The recently passed Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) should make such steps much easier for states to take in covering eligible but uninsured children. Following CHIPRA's enactment, states have both new tools and new incentives to use automated strategies in fulfilling four key functions: identifying uninsured children; determining their eligibility for health coverage; enrolling eligible children into coverage; and retaining eligible children.
For policies to increase access to Medicaid and SCHIP.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Stimulus Funding Working, At Least in Two States

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has a new report on how states are using the stimulus funding. The report includes information from a number of states, but looks closely at Virginia and New York and found that "just a few months after enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, federal fiscal assistance for state governments has begun to have its intended impacts. It has enabled states to close their large budget shortfalls with smaller cuts in education, health care, and other important services than would have occurred had the federal government not provided this assistance. This, in turn, has helped preserve many key programs that serve states’ most vulnerable residents. It also has lessened the damage to state economies that comes when states sharply reduce spending in a recession. In short, federal assistance has helped change the state budget equation for the better." For guidance on using the stimulus funding.