Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How are States Using Part C to Support the Socio-emotional Development of Childen?

The National Center for Children in Poverty has issued a new 50 state report on the implementation of IDEA's Part C early intervention services.
Research shows that only a fraction of children eligible for the program received services. The aim of this brief was to determine how states leveraged different policy choices to support integration of social-emotional developmental strategies into early intervention services. Forty-eight states’ Part C coordinators participated in the study. They reported on their states’ efforts to support screening, referral and evaluation; strategies that are part of the array of early intervention service continuum covered by the Part C program; services and supports to children who are at risk and who are not eligible for Part C; and coordination and leadership.
For policies to increase academic success through Part C implementation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do Foreclosure Mediation Programs Help?

The National Consumer Law Center has issued an important new report on foreclosure mediation programs across the country. The report notes that mediation programs have emerged as an increasingly attractive option, with 25 new programs launched in fourteen states from mid-2008 to mid-2009. State legislatures, state supreme courts, and local courts all played roles in creating these programs. Foreclosure mediations hold out the hope of removing major obstacles that have hindered efforts to slow the spread of the foreclosure epidemic. For state policies to prevent foreclosures.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Recession Strategy: Human Capital Innovations in State Governments

A recent report from the Pew Center on the States examines the data collected in Pew’s Grading the States 2008 state management assessment and highlights successful human resource policies in state governments. Acknowledging the essential role of state employees in government functioning and service provision, the report draws lessons from states’ management, training, and analysis practices and offers states low-cost, effective strategies for improving their human capital management during the recession.

strategies for tough fiscal times.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Report on State Policies to Address Childhood Obesity

A new report from the National Governors Association outlines state policy activities to address childhood obesity.
Studies show that childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Today, more than 23 million American children—or nearly one in every three—are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity is not an isolated problem. It spans gender, socioeconomic status, race, and age, and impacts everything from academic achievement to health care costs to wellness outcomes over a person’s lifespan. ... As chief executives of the states, governors have an important platform to promote healthier lifestyles among children and families by invoking the power of the executive office to set the state’s vision, strategic direction, and priorities. Gubernatorial leadership serves as a framework within which lawmakers, community leaders, parents, and other key participants can influence policy decisions and implement programs to improve children’s health. This report shows that many governors are taking obesity prevention policies and programs to a new level of effectiveness by building wellness practices into child care, school, community, and health care settings and establishing governance systems to enhance program coordination across state agencies.
For policies to increase access to children's health care. (Hat tip to Front and Center)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Great New Videos on the Research Channel

Three new videos are available on the Research Channel from the University of Chicago:
  • Teen Mothers- a panel of notables examines the implications of teen motherhood from varying perspectives, from policy implications for teen mothers to risks that may include maltreatment or even incarceration.
  • Place-based poverty initiatives- Panelists explore how initiatives that integrate services for high-need young people can complement comprehensive neighborhood development work now being enacted in Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, Detroit and other cities.
  • Monitoring Child Well-being- A panel discussion on how to improve health care, education and child welfare. Experts explore what programs are working and opportunities for developing more effective program design and service integration through performance monitoring.

For videos highlighting policymakers who have successfully implemented policies that improved outcomes for children and families.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Resource: State Laws to Implement Fostering Connections

The National Conference of State Legislatures has created a great resource by compiling the state laws introduced in 2009 to implement the federal Fostering Connections Act.

For state policies to safely reduce foster care.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Report on Home Visiting, Integrating with Early Care and Education

Chapin Hall releases this issue brief that highlights the need for a system of early intervention services, of which home visitation is a critical component.
Despite its promise for improving the circumstances and thus the development of newborns, home visitation must not be seen as the single solution for preventing child maltreatment or for promoting healthy family dynamics. Home visitation is, however, a key component of an effective system of care.

Policies to implement homevisiting as part of a strategy to support young children and families.

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Funding Resource for Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

A new website launched by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) includes current information on addiction and mental-health funding for treatment, prevention, and interventions, as well as a archive of funding-related reports, news and other information. (Hat tip to Reclaiming Futures blog)

Promoting Fathers' Engagement With Children: Preventive Interventions for Low-Income Families.

Few programs to enhance fathers' engagement with children have been systematically evaluated, especially for low-income minority populations. In this study, 289 couples from primarily low-income Mexican American and European American families were randomly assigned to one of three conditions and followed for 18 months: 16-week groups for fathers, 16-week groups for couples, or a 1-time informational meeting. Compared with families in the low-dose comparison condition, intervention families showed positive effects on fathers' engagement with their children, couple relationship quality, and children's problem behaviors. Participants in couples' groups showed more consistent, longer term positive effects than those in fathers-only groups. Intervention effects were similar across family structures, income levels, and ethnicities. Implications of the results for current family policy debates are discussed. (Author abstract)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cities Vary Widely in Teen Births

The 2009 edition of Child Trends' annual Facts at a Glance contains teen birth data for 73 of the largest cities in the U.S. and also includes data by city on the percentage of teen births that are repeat births (two or more births to teen mothers). The report, which is based primarily on Child Trends' analyses of data from the National Center for Health Statistics, also includes national and state-level trends in teen childbearing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Report: Combining Multiple Response and System of Care

A new policy brief from the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University that focuses on the integration of a Multiple Response System and a System of Care. The North Carolina Division of Social Services (NCDSS) is currently putting the two initiatives into action to work in tandem to support common goals. The brief also offers recommendations and resources that policymakers and practitioners to develop similar initiatives or to improve current practices in the child welfare system.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

“The Forgotten Fifth: Child Poverty in Rural America”

A new report by William O’Hare, Fellow at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, looks at the unique challenges faced by rural children living in poverty. The report finds that rural children experience many of the same disadvantages as urban children but that limited access to support services and social and economic isolation exacerbate these problems. Additionally,
The urban focus of welfare programs means policy makers often shortchange needy
rural families when designing and implementing the safety net. The socioeconomic
environment that poor rural families face should be considered before designing
and implementing policies and programs for the poor. Because of their isolation,
poor rural children may be more disadvantaged in some ways than poor children in
urban areas.
Policies for reducing child poverty.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Investing in Early Childhood: A Roadmap to Economic Success

This road map offers a comprehensive plan for improving Louisiana by making public investments in infants, toddlers, and young children. By addressing health, education, social-emotional development, parenting education and family support, the report explain recommended strategies for ensuring the optimal development and well-being of young children in Louisiana. Background information is provided for each of these five critical areas, along with the current financial burden on the State, recommended actions, cost of the recommendations, and the expected outcomes. Recommendations include: expand the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program which is currently serving only 15% of all eligible families; decrease preterm births which will significantly reduce Medicaid costs, reduce Louisiana's high infant mortality rate, and improve the lives of children who would otherwise have been premature; create a strong system of early education by integrating the successes of the pre-k and the child care rating system; expand the Early Childhood Supports and Services program; and improve the quality of parenting education in Louisiana by enhancing training, resources, and technical assistance for parent educators through strengthening the Louisiana Parenting Education Network. For policies to increase quality early care and education.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Comparing Kin and Non-Kin Placements and Outcomes

Interesting new study on kin vs. non-kin placements: How do Placements in Kinship Care Compare with Those in Non-Kin Foster Care: Placement Patterns, Progress and Outcomes?
The research reported in this paper was based on case file reviews of 270 children, half in kin placements and half in stranger foster care, and on interviews with a sub-sample of 32 kin carers, social workers, children and parents. Kin carers were found to be significantly more disadvantaged than stranger foster carers: more kin carers were lone carers, with health problems, living in overcrowded conditions and had financial difficulties. The children, in contrast, were remarkably similar in the two kinds of placement. ... kin placements lasted longer, mainly because fewer were planned as interim placements. However, because kin carers persisted with very challenging children and yet received fewer services than stranger foster carers, they were more often under strain. The implications for policy and practice are examined. (Author abstract)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Evaluating the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has produced a report on the progress of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), its juvenile detention reform project, started in the 1990s. The report discusses JDAI’s rapid growth, effective reduction of detention, fiscal and public safety benefits, and progress in combating racial inequity in the juvenile justice system. Though future challenges are identified, the report finds that JDAI “is on track to become the standard of practice for how local justice systems nationwide handle the critical front end of the juvenile court process.”

Policies to reduce juvenile detention.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Reports on Transitioning Youth

The Urban Institute has issued a series of reports "Vulnerable Youth and the Transition to Adulthood" that includes findings such as:

Low-income African American youth engage in fewer risky behaviors than
low-income white youth, while second-generation Latinos make a more successful
transition into the labor market than black and third-generation Latino youth.
These findings are in a collection of eight brief studies on vulnerable youth,
risky behavior, and the transition to adulthood:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pregnant and Parenting Foster Teens

A new report by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago discusses the risk of female foster youth in Illinois becoming pregnant and giving birth. Using administrative data from the Teen Parenting Service Network, Illinois Department of Children and Family Service, Chicago Public Schools, and the Illinois Medicaid Paid Claims Longitudinal Database and interviews with child welfare agencies directors and caseworkers, researchers examined effects of pregnancy and parenting while in foster care on educational and health outcomes and two-generational involvement in the foster care system.

Many female foster youth are becoming mothers at an early age, and their first child is often not their only one. Nearly one-quarter of the female foster youth who were mothers had at least two children by the time they exited…[O]ur findings suggest that the children of DCFS wards may be an especially vulnerable population. Twenty-two percent of the TPSN mothers were investigated for child abuse or neglect and 11 percent had a child placed in foster care. Most of their children were very young when they were placed, and while some of their placements were very short-term, many had not achieved permanency even after 2 years.

Policies for safely moving children out of foster care and supporting their success.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

State Health Policy Report on Improving the Identification of Young Children with Disabilities

A new report from the National Academy for State Health Policy based on multi-state learning collaboratives. These state teams developed and tested Medicaid-based models for improving the delivery of early child development services to low-income children and their families by strengthening primary health care services and systems. Nineteen states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia worked to improve identification of children with or at risk for or with developmental delays. Participants developed and implemented (or are implementing) policy improvements designed to promote, support, and spread the use of a standardized developmental screening tool as part of regular well-child care.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

State Bills to Extend Foster Care

In the wake of the Federal Fostering Connections to Success Act, the ABA Center on Children and the Law Bar-Youth Empowerment Project asked states to identify recent bills ... that would extend support for foster youth in that state beyond age 18. ... A chart summarizes key information obtained.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Race, Ethnicity, and Low-Income Status

The Urban Institute recently published a fact sheet on racial and ethnic disparities among low-income families. Examining racial and ethnic differences in low-income family structure, work effort, nativity or immigration status, earnings, and education, the publication suggests a need for difference policy approaches to reducing poverty and economic disparity.
With less emphasis on income supports and more on increasing work effort, recent
policy changes may have affected racial disparities. In addition, if new
policies aim to move people up to the next rung on the economic ladder or
improve families' well-being even if their incomes do not increase
substantially, then policymakers and advocates need to understand racial
differences that may affect the impact of these policies and programs on
different types of families.

Policies to reduce poverty and increase family economic success.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Implementation Challenges of Juvenile Justice Legislation

By request of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) surveyed juvenile justice professionals to evaluate the implementation barriers of the Adam Walsh Act as its reauthorization approached. Data collection focused on the financial, legal, and tribal impacts of the legislation, as well as its perceived benefits and problems, the likelihood of jurisdictional compliance, and professionals' opinions about reauthorization. The survey findings indicate serious concerns about the requirements of the legislation, its implementation challenges, and its overall effectiveness. For example,

The vast majority of respondents (84%) seemed to indicate that the Adam Walsh
Act’s mandatory minimum requirements are disproportionately harsh and that
normal adolescent behavior between consenting persons could be criminalized
under the provisions of The Act. Slightly less than this, but still more than
three quarters of respondents (79%) also said that juvenile names and addresses
should not be posted on the Internet as part of The Act’s mandatory reporting
requirements. More than two‐thirds (68%) of those answering the question said
The Act’s Registry will have no impact on preventing future adult sex offenses
and more than half (53%) did not feel The Act would make their communities

Policies to reduce juvenile detention.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Innovative Job Training Program Leverages State and Federal Funding

Food Stamp Employment and Training (FSET). FSET is a federal program that provides grants to states to provide job training services for food stamp recipients. In addition, this program also provides unlimited 50 percent federal funding match for additional state and local funds invested in training for this population. States that access these uncapped matching funds can leverage significant federal dollars to provide expanded job training and related supports to those at the lowest end of the income scale. An evaluation of the first 18 months of the pilot program identified the following successes:

  • Enhanced Services. Through the pilot program, partnering agencies enhanced access to employment services, expanded the services available, and provided more personalized and intensive services. In the first year of the program, 566 people received employment and training services -- people who, without this program -- would not have been eligible for these services.
  • Higher Wages Among Participants. State data show that wages of program participants grew from $8.80 before participation to $11.46 afterward -- a gain of 30 percent.
  • Significant Leverage of Federal Funds. During the first 18 months of this pilot, partners accessed over $1.1 million in federal matching funds.
  • Return on Investment: A Washington state study found that effective job training yielded net benefits to taxpayers of up to $27,000 per participant.

For policies to improve job training and maximize the FSET program.

Interactive Website Analyzes Children of Immigrants

A new Urban Institute website, Children of Immigrants Data Tool, enables users to generate detailed charts of the characteristics of children age 0 to 17 nationwide and in individual states and the District of Columbia. Statistics on 21 features include citizenship and immigrant status (foreign vs. native-born) of children and their parents; children's race, ethnicity, and school enrollment; parents' education and English proficiency; and family composition, income, and work effort. A companion publication, "Children of Immigrants: National and State Characteristics,"highlights key national data and variations across states. (Author abstract)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Database of Youth-serving Programs

Federal agencies have come together to create an interactive Web site that compiles resources that strengthen America's youth. At, you can:

  • locate Federally-funded programs for youth by most geographical parameters,
  • generate maps based on census data,
  • search for programs based on protective and risk factors addressed by the program,
  • look up youth facts,
  • search for funding information,
  • use tools to help you assess community assets,
  • search for evidence-based youth programs, and
  • be updated on the latest youth-related news.

(From the Capital Compassion Fund)