Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays!

We will be back in the new year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

ASFA: Intentions and Results

The Center for the Study of Social Policy in collaboration with the Urban Institute commissioned a series of papers to analyze the implementation and effects of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA).

Intentions and Results: A Look Back at the Adoption and Safe Families Act begins with a framework piece that provides an overview of the ASFA legislation, and analyzes state implementation efforts, the effects on service delivery and agency culture, and trends in outcomes for children and families since ASFA’s inception. Five perspective papers follow which capture the experiences from parents and youth directly affected by the legislation; the point of view from one of the original drafters of the law; a child welfare leader who has experienced these reform efforts firsthand; and, a judge charged with enforcing the law. The series include seven policy briefs by researchers, advocates, and policy analysts who examined the implications of ASFA for specific populations, such as parents who have a mental health or substance abuse illness. The series concludes with a set of recommendations from the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

For policies to safely increase exits from foster care to reunification, guardianship and adoption.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Flaws in How the Feds Hold the States Accountable for Foster Care

A new brief from Chapin Hall presents their critique and criticism of the federal government's system for evaluating the performance of the states' child welfare agencies. Summarizing the shortcomings they find that the federal Child and Family Service Reviews (CFSR):
  • Overlook important variation among states in the demographics of the children and families served.
  • Fail to account for systemic state differences in caseload inclusion criteria, and the inherent practice and policy conflicts between measures.
  • Draw on data derived from a database (AFCARS) that was not designed to measure longitudinal performance, and is still not of the quality to justify imposing fiscal penalties.
  • Count/weight states equally despite enormous differences in the size of the child population.
  • Employ a complicated statistical method, principal components analysis (PCA), in the absence of any evidence that such a method is in any way required or superior to simpler and more-transparent approaches to measurement.
  • Make many arbitrary and statistically inappropriate decisions in the use of the PCA procedure, thereby undermining the ranking of states that the method produced.
  • Arbitrarily set the national standard at the 75th percentile, and then rely on ill-conceived rules that adjust the standard to a different level.

State policymakers can use their own policies for holding their child welfare systems accountable.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Results-based Public Policy: Did you miss the webinar?

If you missed the webinar on December 9th that we posted on previously, a recording and the slides are posted on the website. We had over 50 participants from four countries!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Illinois Integrated Assessment: Collaborative Results for Children and Families

A new report from Chapin Hall examines the Illinois Integrated Assessment (IA) program and its substantive effects on interventions for children and families. Begun in 2005, the IA partners child welfare caseworkers with licensed clinicians outside the child welfare system to collaborate on better-informed child and family assessments, which allow for the development of stronger service plans and earlier, more appropriate interventions. The report outlines the IA model, discusses its implementation, and explores its utilization through the experiences of frontline caseworkers. The IA program’s results for children, families, and even caseworkers provide a useful example to policymakers.

Policies to increase exits from foster care to permanency.

Monday, December 14, 2009

National Data on Households with Food-Insecure Children

Food security is essential to children’s current and future health and well-being, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service found that 15.8 percent of U.S. households with children were food insecure at some point in the year. Food Insecurity in Households with Children: Prevalence, Severity, and Household Characteristics describes the prevalence and severity of food insecurity in households with children as of 2007 and the trends since 1999. The study also examines the characteristics of households with food-insecure children, suggesting that job opportunities and wage rates for less educated workers are significant factors affecting children’s food security. Policies to expand food assistance to families and promote family economic success can help address food insecurity and its affect on children.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Job Training in a Jobless Recovery: Training for What?

Another excellent piece on Spotlight on Poverty comes from Bob Giloth and Maureen Conway. They present the challenges to job training progams in this economy: where will programs find jobs for their trainees? One of the ways to address this challenge is through sector-based training programs, citing recent research that found
workers trained in such sector-based approaches earned more money and were more likely to remain employed than similar workers not chosen for the programs.
Many of these employees were young, poor, African-American or Latino—among the groups hit hardest by unemployment. They go on to remind the White House, along with the rest of us, that
the chief lesson of the sector-based approach: the best money is spent training for a job that’s waiting to be filled.
For state policies to promote sector-based job training.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jobs and People of Color, What Can Policymakers Do?

The latest unemployment figures were encouraging, until you disaggreated by race. The overall rate may have dropped to 10% but for Blacks unemployment stands at 15.6% and for Latinos it is 12.6%. With one newspaper reporting that "Latinos and African-Americans in Massachusetts and across the country are facing high unemployment rates that could spiral to levels not seen in decades". But a new report from the Economic Policy Institute called "Getting Good Jobs to America's People of Color" lays out a bold, progressive agenda for creating jobs targeting those with the highest rates of unemployment. While making the case for improving access to education, among other strategies, the report also says "Good jobs should be available to workers at all educational levels. Many of the service sector jobs in the American economy do not require a high level of education. A good jobs agenda cannot leave the large number of workers in this big and growing sector of the economy behind." State policymakers can address this issue with policies to promote a strong job training agenda.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spike in Foster Care Placements: the Economy or Re-balancing?

An interesting piece in the Texas Tribune noting a sudden increase in foster care placements for the month of September. In that month 1500 children were removed from their homes, as compared to the highest single month of removal previously that included the 400 children removed from a polygamists' ranch. The article goes on to suggest that this may be a reflection of an appropriate refocusing of the system from a period when too many children were left in their homes.

Certainly when recent headlines announce that "Texas leads the state in child abuse deaths", it is easy to see how this sudden "course correction" might occur. Another potential factor identified in the article is the Gates case, where the 5th Circuit clarified when social workers can remove children without a court order and when they are immune from prosecution. Many believe that following the Gates case, the Texas child welfare agency took a very strict view of when a child is considered to be in danger. However, the article also suggests that the economy could be a factor in the increase of child abuse cases. With the recession causing more families to experience hunger, homelessness, unemployment and family stress, there may also be an increase in child neglect or family violence. At the same time, many agencies are forced to lay off social workers.

What do you think? Is the Texas system re-balancing? Or is the economy resulting in more vulnerability for families and children? Or are agencies with fewer social workers less equipped to help families and children in crisis?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Webinar: ASFA 12 Years Later


Monday, December 14, 2009; 9:00-10:45 a.m. ET

Panelists: Olivia Golden, Institute fellow, Urban Institute, and author, Reforming Child Welfare
John Mattingly, commissioner, New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services Carmen Nazario, assistant secretary for children and families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Susan Notkin, New York director, Center for the Study of Social Policy (moderator), Jeanette Vega, parent, writer for Rise magazine, and a community representative who guides parents in child safety conferences, Nancy Young, executive director, Children and Family Futures, and director, National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare

The ground-shifting Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 was passed in response to growing concerns that the nation’s child welfare systems were not providing for the safety, permanency, and well-being of abused and neglected children. The ambitious new law aimed to reaffirm the focus on child safety in case decisionmaking and to ensure that children, rather than languish in foster care, were promptly connected with permanent families. It declared that, in making decisions about foster care and adoption placements, “the child’s health and safety shall be the paramount concern.”

A dozen years after passage of this landmark legislation, the Center for the Study of Social Policy and the Urban Institute are publishing a comprehensive retrospective titled Intentions and Results: A Look Back at the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Its 14 papers, by a broad sweep of scholars and practitioners, probe the realities of ASFA’s implementation compared to the hopes and fears that attended its enactment; its effects on families facing such issues as substance abuse, mental health problems, or parental incarceration; the perspectives of youth and families involved with the child welfare system; the future agenda for adoption, guardianship, and reunification; and more.

To mark the collection’s release, five panelists -- each with a unique perspective on the child welfare system -- will look back at the lessons of ASFA and assess what they mean for tomorrow’s vulnerable children and families, including opportunities presented by the new Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act.

To attend this event in Washington, D.C., RSVP at
e-mail, or call (202) 261-5709.

To listen to the live audio webcast, register at

Monday, December 7, 2009

Webinar: Results Based Public Policy, in Good Economic Times and Bad

Results Based Public Policy: Using Results to Develop Public Policy, In Good Economic Times and Bad

Join us for a Webinar on December 9 at noon

Space is limited.Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Results-Based Public Policy focuses the energy of government on a singular purpose: to achieve sustainable and measurable improvements for children, youth and families. Results-based Public Policy is defined as using the desired outcome to drive the actions taken by government to address a particular issue. This decision-making process for developing public policy starts with a clearly articulated desired result or outcome to be achieved, assesses current circumstances, uses policy options that have demonstrated an ability to achieve this outcome and evaluates progress through data and performance measures. The New York Times reports that, in spite of stimulus funding, states are severely cutting programs for the most vulnerable. Agencies must compete for scarce dollars while being evaluated on the basis of their ability to position states to thrive in unforgiving competitive national and global economies. Focusing on the results they want to achieve, states can maximize federal funding, create returns on investment and generate savings. States need tools, like, designed to help policymakers make effective budget decisions that will both protect the most vulnerable and achieve long-term results for their state.

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendeesRequired: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista Macintosh®-based attendeesRequired: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer

Friday, December 4, 2009

Another Look at Foreclosure Mediation Programs

New from the Urban Institute, "the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) program is a special federal appropriation, administered by NeighborWorks® America, that is designed to support a rapid expansion of foreclosure intervention counseling in response to the nationwide foreclosure crisis. Loan modifications received by NFMC clients resulted in significantly lower mortgage payments than would have been received without the help of the program. ... [A preliminary] analysis of the NFMC program suggests that the program is having its intended effect of helping homeowners facing loss of their homes through foreclosure". For policies to reduce home foreclosures.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What States Are Doing to Assist Immigrants With Integration

The National Governors Association has released a new issue brief called "Rising to the Immigration Integration Challenge: What States are Doing and Can Do". The brief highlights activities by states to globally address the issues related to integration such as improving data about immigrant populations, better information about the benefits of integration and public awareness campaigns to engage the broader community. States can facilitate successful integration by:
    • Making sure that immigrants who work in highly skilled occupations, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, and researchers, can quickly obtain necessary U.S. licenses and credentials;
    • Making sure that those with limited formal education have access to a combination of English instruction, adult education, and job training to improve their job prospects;
    • Making sure that children of immigrants have access to, and use, programs that will help them be healthy and succeed in school;
    • Making sure that immigrants know they are eligible for citizenship, understand how to apply, and know English well enough to qualify; and
    • Helping immigrants understand the U.S. financial system and how banking and credit can help them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Seizing the Opportunity to Reframe and Integrate Human Service Administration

A white paper by the National Human Services Assembly’s Family Strengthening Center argues that the current economic crisis provides a key opportunity for rethinking the way human services frame “the client” and deliver services to children and families. The product of a May 2009 convening of national leaders in child, youth, and community development and family strengthening, the paper lays out major themes discussed and actionable strategies for reframing and cross-disciplinary service administration. In the face of challenges like organizational siloing and fragmented funding, the group calls for a new lens that acknowledges the family as the client, policy that supports families raising minor children, integrated and more accessible human services, and immediate changes in case management, data sharing, and benefits eligibility screening.

Policies that support children and families, and a framework for policy success.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage: The 2007-2008 Data

The U.S. Census Bureau’s recently released report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008 provides a picture of the dynamics of economic well-being between 2007 and 2008. The data show that:
  • Real median household income fell between 2007 and 2008. The decline was widespread and coincided with the recession that started in December 2007.
  • The poverty rate increased between 2007 and 2008.
  • Though the percentage of uninsured was not statistically different than in 2007, the number of uninsured increased between 2007 and 2008.

Policies to increase family economic success and policies to improve health care access.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Analyzing Barriers to Children’s Movement Out of Foster Care in New York City

The Long Road Home: A Study of Children Stranded in New York City Foster Care, recently released by Children’s Rights, explores the barriers that delay the progress of children in New York City foster care toward reunification, adoption, or permanency through legal guardianship. It is an in-depth evaluation of the city’s child welfare system, including the casework of private agencies contracted and supervised by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to provide foster care services, as well as Family Court. The report provides concrete recommendations to improve casework, expedite Family Court proceedings, and support permanency outcomes for children.

Policies to increase exits from foster care to permanence.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We will return on Monday, November 30th.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Facts for Policymakers: Adolescent Violence and Injuries

A new fact sheet from the National Center for Children in Poverty, "Overall rates of injury and death increase dramatically from childhood to late adolescence. Due to developmental and social factors, such as time spent without adult supervision and increasing independence, adolescents are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors than either younger children or adults. Biology also plays a role. The maturation of brain networks responsible for self-regulation often does not occur until late adolescence, making adolescents more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Helping Judges Promote Better Outcomes for Children Aged Zero-to-Three

The American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, in collaboration with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Zero to Three National Policy Center, has released Healthy Beginnings, Healthy Futures: A Judge's Guide. The guide provides tools and strategies to help judges better understand and promote child development and attachment, infant mental health, and early care and education for children aged zero to three who enter their courtrooms. This publication may also be useful to the advocates for these very young children, whose health outcomes are especially affected by child abuse and neglect.

Policies to increase quality early care and education and policies to support and strengthen vulnerable families. Sign up at to receive updates about our forthcoming child abuse and neglect content!

Friday, November 20, 2009

For Federal Policymakers: How to Better Identify and Serve Children of Incarcerated Parents

The Reentry Policy Council’s recently released Children of Incarcerated Parents: An Action Plan for Federal Policymakers “reviews both federal and state barriers to identifying and serving children of incarcerated parents, and offers policy recommendations for the U.S. Congress and the Administration. The action plan is designed to help federal leaders improve policies for children of incarcerated parents, but also includes recommendations of value to states and local governments that can facilitate and complement federal initiatives and result in better responses to this population.”

Policies to support and strengthen vulnerable families.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Creating Campus Supports for Foster Youth in College

A research brief by The Advisory Board Company for Casey Family Programs looks at resources and support services to help foster youth transition to life at college. Key observations and best practices for support foster youth and their degree completion emerged from a review of the practices of several institutions, mainly from the West Coast. Recommendations include:
  • Provide financial, academic, and emotional/social support
  • Designate a full-time point person for foster youth support
  • Build an advisory committee and solicit feedback from foster youth students to inform programming
  • Provide year-round, on-campus housing for foster youth
  • Avoid siloing of activities for foster youth, instead integrating them into the university community
Policies for preparing youth to succeed in life. Sign up at to receive updates about our forthcoming college enrollment and completion policies and strategies!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Toolkit for Child Welfare about Working with Immigrant Families

In 2007 a report by the Urban Institute and the National Council of La Raza painted a painful picture of the price children are paying as a result of immigration enforcement activities. They showed that "for every two immigrants arrested, one child is left behind, translating into thousands of children separated from their parents and millions more at risk." A new set of tools created by the American Humane Society and its partners in the Migration and Child Welfare National Network sets out to reduce the impact of immigration enforcement on children. One toolkit focuses on a Child Welfare Flowchart and identifies the immigration issues and challenges at each decision point in the child welfare system. The second toolkit is an overview of the immigration system, and provides child welfare with information, tips and resources. Together they provide an important resource for child welfare professionals, as well as attorneys and immigration workers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spotlight Commentary: The Two-Generation Approach, By Frank Farrow, Director, Center for the Study of Social Policy

The most recent Spotlight on Poverty Commentary looks at the "Two Generation Strategy, Helping Low-Income Families Survive the Recession" authored by CSSP's director, Frank Farrow. Examining the most recent census data, Mr. Farrow advances a family-focused approach to economic opportunity. The piece provides specific examples from various states, as well as the research about the the effectiveness of key strategies, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, sector-focused job training, preschool and early-literacy initiatives. By combining these efforts into a comprehensive approach, Mr. Farrow presents
a “two-generation” effort, focused on promoting the economic well-being of parents and simultaneously ensuring that young children are healthy, safe and succeeding in school. That means effective programs that help more low-income, low-skilled adults get and hold jobs, and access available public benefits like food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, child care, education and tax credits, that can add up to sufficient income to provide for their families. It also means making sure that their children get the best possible start in life, are reading by third grade, and move forward with successful school careers, including post-secondary education.
For state policies to support a two generation strategy using the federal stimulus money, including an online guide for policymakers.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Massachusetts Introduces New Growth Model for Tracking Student Progress

The State of Massachusetts had announced a new growth model to track the progress of individual students. Most states track cohorts of students which allows them to compare 3rd grade classes from year to year, for example. The new growth model measures the results for individual student progress on the state's assessment test and tracks the student's scores from one year to the next. The growth report details how much a student's performance has changed from one year to the next. See a powerpoint that provides an overview of the model. "Never before have we provided as complete a picture to evaluate student performance. By examining achievement and growth over time we have a more robust profile of school effectiveness than once-a-year MCAS scores alone provide," said Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester. "This powerful tool will allow our educators to learn more about which approaches to support students are working best to help improve long-term achievement." (From the press release) (Hat tip to Front and Center)

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Center for the Study of Social Policy is pleased to announce a new Board Chair and a new Senior Fellow

CSSP’s board of directors recently elected Carol W. Spigner, D.S.W. to serve as the new leader of the organization, guiding CSSP through the next stages of growth and development. Frank Farrow, board member and Executive Director of CSSP, said “The board is delighted to welcome Dr. Spigner as the new chair. She was chosen based on her unquestionable knowledge and commitment to this nation’s most vulnerable children and families.” Dr. Spigner stated “I am honored to have been invited by my colleagues to help build on the foundation of expertise and dedication to developing public policies and practices that strengthen families and communities. I look forward to our work together, as we take CSSP forward in the future.”

Bill Traynor, the Executive Director of Lawrence Community Works (LCW) has joined CSSP as a Senior Fellow. Mr. Traynor leads a 5000 member network of resident stakeholders in Lawrence, Massachusetts and has achieved national acclaim for inspiring new investments to the city and creating new grass roots initiatives in family asset building, youth development, community organizing, and housing. While continuing his duties at LCW, Bill will work with an array of CSSP projects and initiatives to incorporate community and network organizing into the Center’s longstanding organizational priority to engage residents, constituents and customers’ perspectives into the work to improve outcomes for children, families and communities.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Facilitating State JJDPA Compliance and Advancing Juvenile Delinquency Prevention

A new report by Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) presents the findings from the Survey of the State Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) Compliance Challenges and Successes, administered by the CJJ and the Justice Policy Institute in 2008. Fifty-five of 56 states and territories currently voluntarily adhere to the standards of care and custody laid out by the 1974 legislation, though challenges with compliance were expressed in the survey. The report outlines these findings and makes recommendations to key stakeholders for support state efforts. Findings include:

  • After 35 years, states remain committed to goals and purposes of the JJDPA.
  • Overall, the President, OJJDP and Congress continue to provide bipartisan leadership and resources to support the mandates of the JJDPA.
  • States embrace OJJDP as a critical partner to provide training, technical assistance, research and evaluation in support of JJDPA compliance and best practices around juvenile justice.
  • Dramatic decreases in federal JJDPA appropriations threaten states’ abilities to maintain compliance with the JJDPA, and OJJDP’s ability to support states in those efforts.
  • States need special assistance from OJJDP and other knowledgeable partners to better safeguard status offenders, achieve measurable reductions in DMC (Disproportionate Minority Contact) and increase compliance successes in Native American and rural/frontier communities.
  • The JJDPA is at a pivotal moment, and renewed commitments from the President, Congress and other JJDPA stakeholders are critical to sustaining the success and enhancing the future of the JJDPA.

Policies to reduce juvenile detention.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Risk and Recovery: Understanding the Changing Risks to Family Incomes

A new paper by the Urban Institute examines the characteristics and circumstances of families vulnerable to sharp income drops and those most likely to recover financially.
More than 13 percent of nonelderly adults in families with children will see their incomes fall by half at some point over the course of a year, and about 40 percent fully recover within a year. Those who lose jobs or have an adult leave the family are more likely to have a substantial drop in income and are less likely to recover.
Policies to improve family economic success.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Can States and Communities Reduce Disproportionality in Juvenile Justice?

A new bulletin by the DOJ Office of Justice Programs’ Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention outlines strategies states and communities can use to reduce disproportionate minority contact, the disproportionate representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system. Public attitudes about crime, race, and youth present challenges to reform efforts but can inform local preparatory strategies., which include identifying funding, establishing a local steering committee with strong leadership, and defining clear goals. These core steps help prepare local leaders to develop strategies for reducing disproportionality.

Policies to reduce racial disparities in juvenile detention.

Monday, November 9, 2009

State Child Care Policies Losing Ground

As a result of worsening budgets, many states have lost ground on key child care assistance policies—limiting eligibility, placing more children and families on waiting lists, increasing parent copayments, or reducing reimbursement rates. A new report from the National Women's Law Center shows that stimulus funding helped but
many state policies are behind where they were in 2001 and many low-income families remain unable to receive child care assistance, or receive child care assistance that fails to provide sufficient support. ... Affordable, reliable child care that enables parents to work and children to develop and thrive is essential.
Policies that support increasing quality early care and education to support child development and policies that support access to child care to support working families

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Quality Improvement Center for Early Childhood

The Children’s Bureau funded the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to create the National Quality Improvement Center on Preventing the Abuse and Neglect of Infants and Young Children, better known as the QIC on Early Childhood (QIC-EC). CSSP has partnered with ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, and the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds. The purpose of this 5-year project is to generate and disseminate robust evidence and new knowledge about program and systems strategies that contribute to child maltreatment prevention and optimal developmental outcomes for infants, young children, and their families. This project was initiated because of growing research that points to the critical importance of early life experiences in shaping the developmental outcomes for children in later life. The QIC-EC has the following roles and responsibilities:

  • Develop knowledge about evidence-based and evidence-informed strategies aimed at preventing the abuse and neglect of infants and young children.
  • Promote collective problem solving through funding selected early childhood and child abuse prevention research and demonstration projects that advance innovative evidence-based and evidence-informed practice improvements and knowledge about preventing child maltreatment and promoting child and family well-being.
  • Establish a national information-sharing network to disseminate promising practices.
  • Evaluate the impact of projects implementing evidence-based or evidence-informed child abuse prevention programs in reducing the risk of child maltreatment.
  • Identify barriers to prevention and recommend changes in policies, procedures, and practice.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

State Examples from Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care

CLASP recently updated its Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project, which profiles state examples of specific policy initiatives to improve child care for infants and toddlers. State examples include links to relevant legislation and regulations, a description of how the state developed and implemented the policy, and any cost data and evaluations or other data. (From author abstract) For policies to increase quality early care and education.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Governor's Guide to Drop Out Prevention

The National Governor's Association has just issued a new guide called Achieving Graduation for All, A Governor's Guide to Drop Out Prevention and Recovery. The report outlines the scope of the problem, noting that no state has higher than an 88% graduation rate and 10 states are below 66%. As we noted in our previous post on the "The High Costs of High School Drop Outs" the consequences of dropping out are severe, creating a greater likelihood of dismal outcomes for both the youth who drop out and their children. This NGA guide recommends that governors take four actions: 1) Promote high school graduation for all; 2) Target youth at risk of dropping out; 3) Reengage youth who have dropped out of school; and 4) Provide rigorous, relevant options for earning a high school diploma.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Improving Urban Service Systems for Children and Families

Chapin Hall hosts a webcast on Improving Urban Service Systems for Children and Families, on November 19, 2009 at 10 a.m. ET / 9 a.m. CT / 8 a.m. MT / 7 a.m. PT Program length: 1.5 hours To Register

This forum will examine the many challenges of systems reform--through the lenses of education, health care and child welfare--and the steps, partnerships, and strategies required to help foster the successful development of vulnerable children and families. The panel will examine questions such as:

  • What does it take to reform urban systems?
  • What are the lessons for suburban and rural services?
  • What can one service system learn from another?
  • How can research on practices and policies contribute to reform?
Panel: Juanona Brewster, director of Early Childhood Development Projects at the Illinois chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Olivia Golden, Institute fellow at the Urban Institute; John Simmons, president of Strategic Learning Initiatives; Cheryl Smithgall, research fellow, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago; and Moderator: Matthew Stagner, executive director, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Monday, November 2, 2009

Raising Poverty’s Political Profile and Increasing Access to Opportunity

Increasing Low-Income Access to Opportunity” by Jodie Levin-Epstein, deputy director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, briefly argues that poverty has become a more visible issue in the political discourse and outlines possible reasons for this shift. The article, which appears in the Fall 2009 issue of Communities & Banking (a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston), also discusses recent efforts by state governments, localities, nonprofits, and volunteers in New England to promote discussion of anti-poverty policies and increase access to economic opportunity for low-income people.

Policies to reduce poverty and promote family economic success.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Helping State Policymakers Understand and Utilize Research

The Council of State Governments has produced the State Policy Guide: Using Research in Public Health Policymaking for state legislators and their staffs. By providing key public health research terminology, qualifiying "strong research,” and advising how to use research in drafting legislation, the guide outlines the benefits of utilizing research results to make policy in public health and human services.
More information on research-informed policymaking.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Webcast: Who Moves, Who Stays,The Resilience of Low-Income Communities

A forthcoming examination of evidence from the Making Connections initiative, a decade-long effort sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to improve neighborhoods in 10 cities, will be the starting point for a debate about the intersection of poverty, neighborhood quality, and economic advancement. A webcast by the Urban Institute is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2009, at Noon–1:30 p.m. ET To Register

Panelists will discuss whether low-income families move because of financial and other problems or to find better homes or communities; whether mobility supports or undermines neighborhood stability; how federal neighborhood revitalization initiatives should respond to high rates of family mobility; and what role cities and nonprofits should play in serving families that move and those that stay.

Panelists: Raphael Bostic, assistant secretary for policy development and research, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Claudia Coulton, professor of urban social research and codirector, Center on Urban Poverty and Social Change, Case Western Reserve University; Brett Theodos, research associate, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute; Bill Traynor, executive director, Lawrence (Mass.) Community Works; and Margery Austin Turner, vice president for research, Urban Institute (moderator)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two Federal Agencies and a Foundation Come Together to Expand a Successful Juvenile Services Model

New federal funding has been awarded to expand the Reclaiming Futures model into three more juvenile drug courts across the country over the next four years. Funding is being provided by SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) is awarding a grant for the treatment; OJJDP is awarding funding for the operation of the court; and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is providing approximately $1 million in technical assistance to implement the Reclaiming Futures’ model. The goal of the Juvenile Drug Court Reclaiming Futures Program is to serve substance-abusing juvenile offenders by developing and establishing juvenile drug courts with the Reclaiming Futures model, and including best practices for adolescent treatment to reduce substance abuse among participating youth.

RWJF launched Reclaiming Futures in 2002 to address these urgent needs by reinventing how juvenile courts work. The initiative brings together judges, probation officers, treatment providers, families and community members to improve drug and alcohol treatment for young people in trouble with the law.

Researchers at Columbia University, for example, found that four out of five teens in the juvenile justice system are under the influence of alcohol or drugs while committing their crimes. And in spite of research that shows treatment helps reduce recidivism, most juvenile courts aren’t set up to detect and treat substance abuse or to provide mental health and other important services. “Most juveniles admitted to treatment are referred from the criminal justice system,” said Eric Broderick, acting administrator for SAMHSA. “These grants will use practices proven to help young people get off drugs and back on track toward building fulfilling lives.” (Excerpted from the press release) For policies to reduce juvenile detention.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The High Costs of High School Drop Outs

For many years criminal justice studies have repeated the grim statistics about the incarceration of African American men. But now an excellent new report by the Center for Labor Market Studies looks at this crisis from a different perspective. The "Consequences of Dropping Out of High School - Joblessness and Jailing for High School Dropouts and the High Cost for Taxpayers" starts with a jaw dropping number- the 22% daily jailing rate for young black men who drop out of high school- and then proceeds to detail stark facts about the labor force participation by high school drop outs. Another dose of harsh reality- young female drop outs were six times as likely to have given birth as their peers who were college students or four year college graduates, and in 2007 8% of all girls aged 16-24 were unmarried mothers. One more statistic to bring the point home- young high school drop outs, male and female, were 63% more likely to end up in a jail, prison or juvenile detention facility than their peers with a college degree.

Why should policymakers care? In addition to the societal costs in this generation and the next as these high school drop outs raise their children in poverty, the fiscal costs are staggering: " The average high school dropout will cost taxpayers over $292,000 in lower tax revenues, higher cash and in-kind transfer costs, and imposed incarceration costs relative to an average high school graduate."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Announcing a Senior Policy Position

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) announces a new Senior Policy position. CSSP developed as part of its efforts to influence policies and practices that emphasize accountability for results. Our mission is to develop public policies and practices that strengthen families and communities to produce equal opportunities and a better future for all children. CSSP seeks a candidate with extensive policy experience and education, and shares our commitment to improving outcomes for vulnerable children and families. To view the details of this announcement.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Report Shows Families Less Likely to Notice Mental Health Needs in Young Children with Special Needs

A new issue brief shows that families are less likely to notice mental health needs in younger children with special needs and more likely to overemphasize the mental health needs of older youth with special needs. Children with special health care needs (CSHCN) comprise 13.9 percent of all children in the United States. Nearly 22 percent of households with children include at least one child with a special health care need. Low income and minority CSHCN have higher rates of mental health problems yet are less likely than their counterparts to receive mental health services.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tax Credits for Working Families, Information About Impacts and Tools

The Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit (CTC), Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), and the dependent exemption all provide important benefits; a single parent with two children can receive up to $7,500 — depending a variety of factors. Too few families take advantage due to confusing eligiblity rules. A fact sheet by the Urban Institute outlines the value of the tax credits, and a new tool by the Children's Defense Fund helps families identify which benefits they should pursue. The Bridge to Benefits is a multi-state project to improve the well-being of families and individuals by linking them to public work support programs and tax credits. To date only four states have participated in the project, leaving families across the country without access to a useful tool. EITC, and other tax credits, are considered one of the most successful policies for lifting children out of poverty. For state policies to expand tax relief for working families.