Monday, December 27, 2010

Collateral Effects of Incarceration on the Economic Mobility of Ex-Offenders and their Families

With 2.3 million Americans behind bars and more than 2.7 million minor children with a parent incarcerated, it is imperative that policymakers understand the economic and social costs of incarceration for ex-offenders, their children and families, and communities.

A new report by The Pew Charitable Trust’s Economic Policy Group and the Pew Center on the States looks at the collateral costs of incarceration, most strikingly its effects on ex-offenders’ economic mobility. The report finds that incarceration reduces ex-offenders’ earnings by 40 percent and their time working by nine weeks annually. Such long-term earnings losses contribute to former inmates’ struggle to move from the bottom of the earnings distribution. Because more than half of all male inmates were the primary source of financial support for their children, according to the report, the economic consequences of incarceration significantly affect the economic security of ex-offenders’ children.

The report also highlights issues of racial equity regarding the collateral consequences of imprisonment, looking at the concentration of incarceration among African American men and its striking effects for their long-term economic success.

Visit our homepage to sign up for email updates--recommendations for results-based workforce strategies to support reintegrating ex-offenders are coming soon!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Evidence-Based Juvenile Justice Work

A new resource, Improving the Effectiveness of Juvenile Justice Programs, from the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University, offers new perspectives in evidence-based practice. The paper is aimed at helping states translate research into improved practice and expanding the benefits of the vast knowledge base about “what works” in the juvenile justice field. The report includes: an overview of the different approaches to evidence-based practice; a tool developed by Dr. Mark W. Lipsey to better make use of the significant knowledge in the field, and a section that embeds this new approach within a comprehensive juvenile justice framework. The tool included in the paper can be used to measure the effectiveness of a variety of existing juvenile justice programs as well as to provide states with recommendations on how to improve them.

For more on reducing juvenile detention.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The High Cost of Obesity

The obesity epidemic in the United States is having serious and wide-spread health implications for millions of Americans. More than two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are now overweight and one-third is obese. While obesity has been a public health concern for some time, there have been few comprehensive studies on the economic cost of obesity in the United States. The Brookings Institution article, The Economic Impact of Obesity in the United States, addresses the economic impact of the countries’ obesity epidemic. The report states that the economic costs of obesity in the United States could exceed $215 billion annually, from direct medical spending, lost productivity, and increased transportation costs. Obesity and obesity-related costs are so significant that it is important for policymakers to take the issue very seriously as both a matter of public health and fiscal responsibility.
Visit our homepage to sign-up for e-mail updates on results-based policy to reduce and prevent childhood obesity- coming soon!

Monday, December 13, 2010

New on! Policies to Increase High School Completion

Individuals and society alike benefit from increased high school graduation rates. High school graduates earn more, live longer and make greater contributions to society on a number of measures than those who drop out. In contrast, high school dropouts face bleak economic futures and the cost to society is in the billions of dollars. In comparison to other industrialized democracies, the United States graduation rate is low; this is a risk to the nation’s competitive standing in the global economy. For policies to increase high school completion.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The November Unemployment Numbers

Unemployment continues to be high; The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that the unemployment rate climbed slightly in November to 9.8 percent (up from 9.6 percent in October). This means that there are approximately 15.1 million unemployed people in the United States. Additionally, unemployment is having a significant effect on members of minority groups with 16 percent of African Americans and 13.2 percent of Hispanic Americans reporting that they are unemployed.

While the private sector continues to report increases in job creation, the recovery is slow, and there are still more than 7 million fewer jobs in the U.S. today than when the recession began in 2007. Economic Snapshot for November 2010, by Christian Weller at the Center for American Progress, addresses the economic improvements being made, and why they haven’t yet positively impacted the families across the country experiencing unemployment, foreclosures and credit default at record rates.

Chad Stone at The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities issued a statement regarding the November Unemployment numbers. Stone states that long-term unemployment remains a very serious concern. Over two-fifths (41.9 percent) of the 15.1 million people who are unemployed (6.3 million people) have been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer (amounting to 4.1 percent of the labor force). Additionally, Stone states that it remains very hard to find a job. The Labor Department’s most comprehensive alternative unemployment rate measure — which includes people who want to work but are discouraged from looking and people working part time because they can’t find full-time jobs — remained at 17.0 percent in November, not much below its all-time high of 17.4 percent.

The Urban Institute is hosting a series of events addressing the U.S. job market. The events, solution-focused policy forums, will address strategies for job creation, labor market roadblocks for young workers and retirement barriers for older workers, and revamping the safety net so that it works during high, persistent unemployment. All event can be attended in-person or via webcast.

  • December 10, 2010: Jumpstarting the Job Market
  • January, 25, 2011: Young and Older Workers (Not) Entering and Exiting the Labor Market
  • February 23, 2011: How Should the Safety Net Be Retooled to Work in Times of High Unemployment?

For more strategies to promote Family Economic Success.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New on! Youth Transitioning From Foster Care

The Center for the Study of Social Policy has developed a new section on focused on youth transitioning from foster care. The new section was developed in partnership with the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative  a leader in the field in developing effective strategies and policies to support foster youth. The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative has been instrumental in bringing national attention to the issue of youth aging out of foster care without the supports necessary to be prepared for life. Their pioneering work has ensured that 1,000’s of youth leave foster care ready to be successful adults.

Visit for policies on expanding economic opportunities, affordable housing options and educational supports for transitioning youth.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Four Lessons on Making and Sustaining Reform

Reclaiming Futures, an organization focused on teenagers caught in the cycle of drugs alcohol and crime, posted Reforming the Juvenile Justice System – Four Lessons from an Expert. The blog post, on Reclaiming Futures Every Day, is the product of an interview with Bart Lubow, director of Programs for High Risk Youth at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The four lessons, provided in detail in the linked post are:

  • Lesson #1: Be Specific About What You’re Changing
  • Lesson #2: Tell Your Staff and Partners What You’re Doing and Why
  • Lesson #3: Keeping it Going – It Ain’t About the Money
  • Lesson #4: In Lean Times, Support What Works, Not the Status Quo

This post is specifically in reference to Juvenile Justice Reform; however the same lessons are applicable to other policy and practice reform efforts.

For a framework on reforming and sustaining policy change.

For more on reducing juvenile detention.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Investing in Community Colleges

CLASP’s Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success recently released a report addressing the importance of community college for low-income students. The report, Getting What We Pay For: State Community College Funding Strategies that Benefit Low-Income, Lower-Skilled Students, provides an overview of the way community colleges are currently funded as well as recommends promising state funding strategies.

The importance of community colleges in training and educating the American workforce was demonstrated during the recession and is expected to grow in the future. For details on the increasingly important role of community colleges please read, Community Colleges: Developing a Skilled Workforce for the Future, from our Financing Community Change blog.

Visit our homepage to sign-up for e-mail updates on results-based policy for increasing college completion - coming soon!

See The Joyce Foundation's Shifting Gears Initiative for more information on the economic importance of matching worker skills with employer needs.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jobs, Economic Growth and an Educated Workforce for the Future: A Fact Sheet Series for Policymakers

Forging a policy agenda to rebuild a state’s economic health demands investing in two generations: working parents and their children. Safeguarding economic success into the future requires providing the current workforce with the skills they need to increase their employability, while promoting opportunities for the healthy development and education of their children. To accomplish this, research supports a strategy that focuses on three interlinked priorities: education, employment and reducing barriers to jobs.

Preparing the next generation of workers requires a cross-cutting approach that stresses reducing unplanned pregnancies, providing high quality early care and education and home visiting services, assuring grade level reading and creating pathways to post-secondary education and jobs, focusing on vulnerable populations and strengthening families.

The 2010 elections bring historic changes in government and a window of opportunity to reshape public policy, focus on critical issues and achieve results for children and families. This series of policy briefs provides guidance to state policymakers that is grounded in research and based on today’s economic realities. The series presents a range of proven, cost-effective policy approaches.

Monday, November 8, 2010

California’s Child Welfare Performance Indicators Project

The California Department of Social Services and the University of California at Berkley’s Center for Social Service Research collaborated on the Child Welfare Dynamic Report System a part of the California Child Welfare Performance Indicators Project. The Child Welfare Dynamic Report System (which is available for use by the public) allows users to query a number of child-welfare relevant topics and create reports. Users can disaggregate the data by a number of categories (including race, age, gender and placement type), and can view data as “point-in time” or configure it to do longitudinal analysis. Examples of the data available on the site include:
  • Reentry following reunification
  • Placement stability
  • ICWA placement preferences
  • Timely health/dental exams
  • Authorized for psychotropic medications
For states considering creating or expanding their child welfare database(s), this is a great example. It includes a significant amount of important information on child welfare in the state and in individual counties.
For more on the importance of state data.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Family Stability and Outcomes for Children

The newest edition of The Future of Children, a collaboration between Princeton and the Brookings Institution, is titled Fragile Families. The work defines fragile families as: couples who are unmarried at the time that their children are born. The findings presented in this edition are based on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) conducted by Princeton and Columbia Universities. The articles in this edition all address three broad research areas:

  • The capabilities of the parents, their relationships with each other and with their children, and how both change over time.
  • How being raised in fragile families affects the well-being of children.
  • Whether the ongoing trend toward forming fragile families should be of concern to researchers and policy makers, and if so, what the role of policy should be in solving any problems posed.

Whether or not a family is considered “fragile” and what the definition and consequences of that are, is something that might elicit debate. However, when making policy decisions that impact children and families, it is always important to consider the research being done and the suggested solutions that come from that work.

For more on What Works.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Educational Neglect for Teenagers: New York State's New Strategies

Between 2004-2008 the allegations of educational neglect increased by 34 percent in New York State. This drastic increase led the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to invite the Vera Institute of Justice to study their approach to educational neglect and to make suggestions on how to improve their service systems. The suggestions made to improve the New York State System might aid other states who have similar ways of instituting educational neglect and who face some of the same circumstances as those experienced in New York.

The Vera Institute found that teenagers do not fit well into the traditional child protective system process. The study found that, while one of the central purposes of investigating educational neglect is to determine whether the child missing school is a symptom of abuse or serious neglect, cases involving teenagers very rarely result in safety concerns. They went on to suggest that the research suggested that cases involving teens often included complicated issues such as mental illness, complex educational needs, homelessness, and conflict between teens and parents.

The Vera Institute suggested ten strategies for improving New York State’s approach to educational neglect involving teenagers, including:

  • Amend the law to clearly state the actions schools must take before calling the state’s child abuse and neglect hot-line, the State Central Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR).
  • Encourage data-driven inter-agency approaches with clear goals of reducing chronic truancy without increasing SCR reports for teenagers.
  • Explore amending the child protective statute to eliminate educational neglect as a ground for child protective proceedings for children ages 13 and older, while also funding and authorizing programs specifically designed to address chronic school absences among this population.

To read the Vera Institute’s full report.

For more on Building Strong and Stable Families.