Monday, August 31, 2009

Child Development Screenings and Child Welfare

The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare looked at services provided to infants and toddlers with developmental delays under Part C, a provision of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). They found that many infants and toddlers who participate in Part C services do not need special education by elementary school. The federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act requires procedures for child welfare workers to refer infants and toddlers for Part C services, which will both save money and improve outcomes for children. Policies to increase child development screenings.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tracking Stimulus Spending

Another new resouce: How Much Stimulus Funding is Going to Your County? ProPublica has compiled nearly all the contracts, grants and loans that the government has reported awarding so far in the stimulus program.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reducing Juvenile Detention, Saves Money and Improves Lives

The Costs of Confinement: Why Good Juvenile Justice Policies Make Good Fiscal Sense, a brief by the Justice Policy Institute, details how states
can see a net reduction in costs by moving expenditures away from large, congruent care facilities (often called “training schools”) for youth and investing in community-based alternatives. Such a resource realignment can reap better results for communities, taxpayers, and children. Evidence is growing that there are cost-effective policies and programs for intervening in the lives of delinquent youth which actually improve community safety and outcomes for children.
Policies to reduce juvenile detention.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Report on Racial Disparities

A new report by Rand, The Socioeconomic, Health, Safety, and Educational Disparities Faced by Boys and Men of Color in California Key findings:
  • There are large disparities for boys and men of color in California across indicators in four broad outcome domains—socioeconomic, health, safety, and ready to learn.
  • Approaches at the macro, community, interpersonal, and individual levels can diminish these disparities.
  • Interventions at these different levels should reinforce and strengthen each other, and reducing disparities is likely to require a portfolio of strategies.
Policies to address racial disparities in child welfare and juvenile justice.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Federal Funding for Asset Building

Another new resource is Finding Funding: A Guide to Federal Sources for Asset-Building Initiatives.
This guide aims to help policymakers and initiative leaders identify federal funding sources to support asset-building initiatives for low-income families, individuals with disabilities, youth, and others. It was developed jointly by The Finance Project and the American Public Human Services Association’s Center for Workers with Disabilities to support the financing and sustainability of promising asset building initiatives at the state, local, and community levels.
For policies to support family economic success.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Funding Sources for Community-based Early Learning Initiatives

Finding Funding: Supporting Making Connections Core Result that Children are Healthy and Prepared to Succeed in School is a new guide issued by the Finance Project. The guide is designed to help local initiatives identify and secure adequate funding to sustain and
expand programs that achieve results.
Fragmented funding streams make it difficult for leaders to support children and families in comprehensive ways. Moreover, the current economic environment—a historic federal deficit, budget cuts at state/local levels, and declines in some foundation and business giving—challenges leaders to be especially strategic and creative about financing and sustaining their work over the coming years. This guide ... overviews a diverse set of public and private funding sources that you can access, blend and braid to help meet the fiscal needs of your initiatives over time.
For policies to support children healthy and prepared to succeed in school.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Connecticut Uses a Results Frame to Improve Outcomes for Young Children

A brief look at Connecticut’s use of results-based accountability to ensure better outcomes for young children, as measured by elementary school academic success. For policies to improve early academic success.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Can We Reduce Poverty in 10 Years?

Commentary on Spotlight on Poverty asks the question, "What Will It Really Take to Move Individuals and Families Out of Poverty in Ten Years?". Noting that

it may be several years before we truly know the impact of the recession on individuals and families, what is known is that record high unemployment rates coupled with the housing and healthcare crisis have had a destabilizing effect on many middle- and low-income families. In order to cut poverty in half in ten years, sound and innovative public policies alone will not be enough. To reach our target of lifting nearly 20 million out of poverty, we will need the following: (1) a national mandate from the Administration and coordination of efforts among federal agencies, states, and localities; (2) an updated poverty measure that is reflective of today’s economic reality; (3) a systematic periodic review of benchmarks and progress at the federal and state levels; and (4) a deliberate strategy to move a sizeable percentage of the most vulnerable segments of our society out of poverty.

Policies to reduce child poverty.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Are States Really Using Stimulus Money?

Two great new resources are available with 50 state information on Stimulus-funded projects. The Council of State Government's has a report on how states are using the Fiscal Stabilization Fund, the most flexible pot available to state governments in the Recovery package. It looks like Public Safety was the big winner across the country. Another great resource comes from the Democratic Policy Council. The Recovery Act: Success Stories in the States provides examples of local success stories that demonstrate the real-life impacts of the Recovery Act. For guidance on using the Stimulus funding effectively.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PreK-3rd Reforms, Fighting "Fade-Out"

A new video by the New America Foundation's Early Education Initiative makes the case for comprehensive PreK-3rd reforms.
Many teachers have seen the promise of programs like pre-kindergarten and Head Start "fade-out" by the time children finish 3rd grade because their elementary schools are not prepared to nurture and sustain this early growth. ... "Fighting Fade-Out Through PreK-3rd Reform" [presents research and programs that] begin with high-quality early childhood education programs and build on the benefits of those programs through the elementary school years and beyond.
Policies to improve early academic success.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mandated Reporters, Outcomes of Referrals

In a recent report by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, "Outcomes of Referrals to Child Protective Services: Comparing Reporters", the authors found variations in the outcomes of referrals from the various individuals mandated to report and investigate suspected child abuse or neglect.
... [E]ducators and social services professionals make more reports to CPS than other types of reporters. Compared with other reporters, referrals from law enforcement were more likely to both be accepted for investigation and result in removal of a child from his or her home. The largest variation in outcomes, however, was not determined by reporter type. ... [T]he region and the history of the individual intake worker were the stronger predictors of the initial risk assigned to a referral. Intake workers with a history of assigning higher levels of risk than their peers (which results in investigation and intervention) were more likely to continue to assign higher levels of risk.
Would these variations influence racial disparities as well? Policies to achieve racial equity in child welfare.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stimulus Money for Early Childhood State Advisory Councils

HHS has issued application guidelines and a letter to Governors advising them of funding availability for the development or enhancement of a high-quality, comprehensive system of early childhood development and care that ensures statewide coordination and collaboration among the wide range of early childhood programs and services in the State, including child care, Head Start, IDEA preschool and infants and families programs, and pre-kindergarten programs and services. By August, 2010 the State must prepare and submit an application that includes:

  • A statewide strategic report addressing the activities of the Advisory Council.
  • A description, for each fiscal year, of how the State will make effective use of funds available to facilitate the development or enhancement of high-quality systems of early childhood education and care designed to improve school preparedness by developing or enhancing programs and activities consistent with the statewide strategic plan.
  • A description of the State early learning standards and the State's goals for increasing the number of children entering kindergarten ready to learn.
  • Information identifying the agency or joint interagency office, and the individual designated by the Governor to coordinate the activities of the State Advisory Council.
  • A description of how the State plans to sustain activities beyond the grant period.

For policies to support kindergarten readiness.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reforming the Juvenile Justice System

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has issued a policy brief on federal juvenile justice reform recommendations:
  • Restore the capacity of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to serve as a national incubator and catalyst for improving juvenile justice policies and practices.
  • Focus the energy and resources of OJJDP and other federal agencies on crucial and pervasive shortcomings in juvenile justice practice.
  • Improve the juvenile justice workforce.

For state policies to reduce juvenile detention including lessons learned from the highly successful Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Growing Up Healthy

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission hosted a webinar about the importance of early childhood health. A recording and the materials from "A Focus on Starting Early" are available.
Listen to Angela Glover Blackwell, Commissioner and PolicyLink founder and CEO, and Robin Mockenhaupt, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of Staff for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, on the importance of starting early to give all children the chance to grow up healthy. The recommendations resulted from a year-long investigation into factors outside of the health care system that influence health. Released in April, the recommendations identify programs and policies from across sectors – and from around the nation – that are making a difference in the health of all Americans.
For policies to support healthy childhood development.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Residents of Suburbs Seeking Food Assistance Faster than Cities

The Brookings Institute has issued a report from their MetroMonitor Program that refutes
the notion that big cities have cornered the market on the family and community distress accompanying rising unemployment during this recession. More so than the last recession, suburbs have felt the effects of this downturn alongside primary cities and core urban counties. The trend is fairly consistent across regions, with Western suburbs generally faring the worst. Exurbs have been hit particularly hard by this recession, perhaps owing to their economic reliance on a battered housing market.
For policies to expand food assistance.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Report: Juvenile Detention Makes Kids Worse

Time Magazine reports that researchers "found that rather than rehabilitating young delinquents, juvenile detention — which lumps troubled kids in with other troubled kids — appeared to worsen their behavior problems. Compared with other kids with a similar history of bad behavior, those who entered the juvenile-justice system were nearly seven times more likely to be arrested for crimes as adults." For policies to reduce juvenile detention.

Poverty, Prosperity, Social Justice and Work

Charles Bruner of the Child and Family Policy Center brings us "Policy Levers to Reduce Poverty and Build Prosperity". This essay provides an overview of two different approaches to poverty reduction: social justice pathways and work pathways. It then discusses policies that can support these approaches. The paper makes clear that
it is not a matter of choosing between “social justice and community-building pathways to community vitality” or “work pathways to economic self-sufficiency” approaches – both are needed to reduce poverty. The challenge is to incorporate them into an overall strategy...
Policies to reduce poverty and increase family economic success.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Foundations and the Issue of Race

Americans are engaged in an important dialog about race in this country. As we examine the roles of government, individuals, laws and policies, it is timely to look at an important symposium from 2008 on the role of foundations. Hosted by Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute the event was titled "Taking Account of Race: A Philanthropic Imperative":
Philanthropy can be a major force in public policy and should address issues of race if social progress is to be achieved. What philanthropic strategies are likely to be most effective? What has worked, and what hasn't? What are the opportunities for creating systemic change? Gara LaMarche, President and CEO of Atlantic Philanthropies delivers the keynote address. Panelists include: Clarissa Martinez De Castro, Director, Immigration & National Campaigns, National Council of La Raza; Terri Lee Freeman, President, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region; Bill Schambra, Director, Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, Hudson Institute
For policies to achieve racial equity in child welfare.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Doctors Advocate for Juvenile Justice Reforms

The Physicians for Human Rights' Health and Justice for Youth Campaign is mobilizing health professionals to advocate for young people in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
Health professionals are uniquely qualified to lend expertise regarding children's health needs, growth, development, and behavior and can guide best practices and polices for creating rehabilitative services that address the medical and mental health needs of children at risk. They advocate for:
  • Higher quality health services, including mental health care, for youth
  • Greater options for alternatives to detention and incarceration
  • Limiting the transfer of youth to the adult criminal justice system

For policies to reduce juvenile detention.

(Hat tip to the Reclaiming Futures blog)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Conditions and Trends in 10 American Cities

A new report by the Urban Institute, "Metropolitan Conditions and Trends Changing Contexts for a Community Initiative", reviews recent trends for social and economic conditions in 10 metropolitan areas. It analyzes key indicators of metropolitan conditions and trends —the economy, the labor market, race, immigration, income, housing, mortgage lending, and more.
[The report] finds that the sites are strikingly diverse along many dimensions and are in many ways representative of the diversity in conditions and trends across America’s metropolitan areas. Although there were important differences in magnitudes, all sites shared in a number of trends: minority groups growing as a share of total population and improvements in several social indicators (e.g., in crime and teen pregnancy) but, disturbingly, notable increases in child poverty.
For policies to reduce child poverty.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Does the 2010 Federal Budget Help Americans Build Assets?

The New America Foundation has issued a new report, "The Assets Report 2009: An Assessment of President Obama’s FY 2010 Budget and the Changing Landscape of Asset-Building Opportunities for Low- and Moderate-Income Americans". The report looks at:
the current and potential landscape of opportunities for Americans to acquire assets and move up the economic ladder. We examine recently enacted legislation and President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposals. The programs we identify help Americans acquire assets for postsecondary education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, savings and investment, and retirement security. Such programs are supported by direct spending or subsidies provided through the tax code.
For policies to improve family economic success.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

America's Children, a National and State-by-State Look

Counting What Counts: Taking Results Seriously for Vulnerable Children and Families: The 20th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book "profiles the well-being of America’s children on a state-by-state basis and ranks states on 10 key measures of child well-being. The Annie E. Casey Foundation's Data Book essay calls for a “data revolution” that uses timely and reliable information to track the progress and improve the lives of vulnerable children. The essay outlines a series of action steps to improve the nation's use of data in creating policies that improve outcomes for children and families." For research-informed policies to achieve better results for children and families.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Status of 2010 Federal Funding for Early Childhood Programs

The committees in both the House and the Senate have moved their appropriations bills for early education. The New America Foundation's Early Ed Watch Blog has an excellent analysis of the proposed 2010 federal appropriations for early childhood programs.
While the House and Senate committees funded CCDBG and Head Start at the same levels President Obama requested for 2010, neither committee was willing to fund new early childhood initiatives requested in the President’s budget. Like their House colleagues, the Senate appropriations committee would provide no funding for proposed Title I Early Childhood Grants or the Early Learning Challenge Fund. ... More generally, the decline in federal investment in PreK-3rd literacy—from $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2007 to less than $300 million under either of the funding bills emerging from the House or Senate committees—should trouble early childhood advocates.
For policies to support early academic success.