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.