Friday, April 30, 2010

America’s Future:Latino Child Well-being

This data book, produced by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), is the first publication of its kind to offer a comprehensive overview of the state of Latino children by integrating a range of key factors and outcomes in the areas of demography, citizenship, family structure, poverty, health, education, and juvenile justice. It provides an overview of current national and state-level trends for Latino children under age 18 relative to non-Hispanic White and Black children, documenting both regional variations and changing trends since the year 2000. The data described in this document tell a compelling but unfortunately alarming story, pointing primarily to the numerous obstacles and inequalities that currently impede Latino children’s paths toward a successful adulthood and that may hinder the broader integration of Latinos into U.S. society if left unattended. ... In addition to describing more than 25 indicators of Latino child well-being at the national level, the data book also reveals the wide diversity of the Latino child and youth population across the country, with many of the indicators varying considerably across states and regions, and perhaps even more significantly by generation and degree of integration. Latino children in new immigrant gateway states of the Southeast, for example, which have experienced a very rapid increase in first- and second-generation Latino children over the past ten years, have high numbers of children in low-income families and linguistically isolated households, but also lower rates of overweight and incarceration, relative to several states with more established Latino communities. (from the executive summary)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Multisystem Families and the Budget: Better, More Cost-Effective Social Services Needed

A recent Chapin Hall study showed the majority of the Illinois’s social service resources are used by a relatively small number of so-called multisystem families, those who are receiving two or more of services (substance abuse treatment, mental health care, foster care, adult incarceration, and juvenile incarceration).

Multisystem families comprised only 23 percent of the study population, “all families who have a substantiated case of abuse or neglect with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and those families with a woman aged 18-45 years who have received food stamps between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008 from the Illinois Department of Human Services.” However, these families made up 68 percent of the issues for which social services were provided and used 68 percent of the systems’ fiscal resources. Data on the co-occurrence of problems showed that nearly all families who had experienced juvenile incarceration or substance abuse treatment received additional services as well.

Especially in a difficult economic climate, it is essential to identify ways that systems can more effectively and efficiently serve all families. Evaluating the provision of these services and understanding how and by whom they are used requires data gathering and analysis across social service agencies, and meeting the needs of multisystem families in a cost-effective way requires agency coordination and communication. Looking toward these solutions better serves the most vulnerable families and reduces future costs to taxpayers.

For a framework for policy success and strategies for tough fiscal times.

Monday, April 26, 2010

States Use of ARRA Funds to Support Child Care

A report from the National Women’s Law Center, by Karen Schulman and Helen Blank, Supporting State Child Care Efforts with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funds, provides information on the ways that states are using economic recovery dollars to support their child-care and early education efforts. The report provides detailed state-by-state information as well as examples of strategies that have been implemented in multiple states. For example, the report outlines that at least four states are using ARRA funds to provide child care assistance to children and families who would not have otherwise received it, by delaying or avoiding implementation of new waiting lists for child care assistance. The report goes on to include the specifics of each state’s efforts, for example; Louisiana used $3 million to delay the use of a waiting list from October to December 2009, keeping approximately 2,700 children off the waiting list.

The report includes information about the use of ARRA funds; to support parents searching for work, to provide training, education and development, for evaluation and assessment of child care, and for replacing TANF child care funds. It is a great resource for policymakers to see the individual and shared initiatives states have used to support child care and early education with ARRA funds as well as to consider strategies for supporting families in the future.

For policies to increase quality early care and education.

For more information see CSSP's Financing Community Change Blog Post: Child Care Development Block Grant Helps States Expand Child Care Efforts

Friday, April 23, 2010

A new tool to help families develop assets.

The Aspen Institute and the Center for the Study of Social Policy have launched a new resource for assets development.  The is a new resource for staff at nonprofit organizations that provide financial education, coaching and asset development services. It is organized around six primary categories of resources: 1) budgeting; 2) savings; 3) credit score; 4) debt; 5) insurance; and 6) organizational resources. Each category contains a variety of relevant training, tools and products – and the site can be searched by those three types of content as well. The website is designed to allow users to quickly and easily access whatever resources they need.  For policies to support the economic success of families.

Monday, April 19, 2010

FRAC Reports SNAP Participation Grows to 39.4 Million

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) published a report this month on the growing participation rates in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (commonly referred to as Food Stamps). Participation in SNAP has grown to record levels with an estimated one in eight Americans receiving SNAP/Food Stamps. Even though participation in SNAP has grown over the last year in every region – FRAC estimates that one in three eligible people are not receiving SNAP benefits.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), SNAP benefits increased by 19 percent, eligibility rules were eased for unemployed adults without children, and additional funding was provided to states for program administration. The benefit increase ($80 more per month for a household of four) has provided greater support to families as well as positively impacted the economy. FRAC estimates that when federal SNAP/Food Stamps dollars are brought into families and communities, each dollar produces nearly two dollars in economic activity.

State policymakers should take a look at FRAC’s state by state analysis of program participation.

For policies to Enhance Food Assistance.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What Works for Youth in Transition to Adulthood

Child Trends new fact sheet looks at what works for older youth transitioning to adulthood. Reviewing findings from 31 studies of the impacts of different intervention strategies on emerging adults, Child Trends highlights programs and policies that effectively serve older youth by promoting their positive development and encouraging self-sufficiency. Their findings include:

  • Providing child care for program participants has been associated with success across youth outcomes.
  • Program strategies specifically geared toward increasing employment have had mixed impacts.
  • Requiring youth to take topically relevant classes may lead to higher levels of school engagement.
  • None of the sexual risk-taking programs are consistently successful at changing behaviors among youth.
  • Case management can be effective at improving education and employment outcomes.

This analysis provides important insight into effective practices for policymakers and practitioners as they craft and implement programs to serve the unique needs of young adults. Specific intervention strategies support the development of older youth and their success in domains such as employment, parenting, health and mental health, education, and life skills.

For policies to prepare youth to succeed in life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Measuring the Child-Friendliness of Governments

In a paper published in a recent issue of Child Abuse and Neglect, The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) lays out a framework for evaluating and planning policy and measuring government accountability. ACPF constructed the Child-Friendliness Index, a framework that quantitatively and qualitatively measures whether governments are fulfilling their responsibilities to provide for and protect children and their well-being. The core indicators of child-friendliness are:

  • Ratification of international and regional legal instruments relating to children
  • Provisions in national law to protect children against harm and exploitation
  • Existence of a juvenile justice system, National Plan of Action (NPA and coordinating bodies for the implementation of children’s right
  • A policy of free primary education.

ACPF’s application of its Index to African governments “confirms that three things matter on the policy front: politics that put children at the centre of public policy; Laws that protect them; and Budgets that provide for their basic needs and full development.” This intriguing framework could stimulate discussion about indicators of the child-friendliness of the federal and state governments in the U.S. and points toward the need to constantly reassess how effectively policies are serving children and their well-being.

Hat tip to the Child Welfare Information Gateway!

For policies that work to support to kids and families.

Friday, April 9, 2010

WIC Eligibility by State: A New Interactive Report

This year Congress will reauthorize the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, which authorizes all of the federal school meal and child nutrition programs. These programs provide the funding necessary to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods. One of the components of this act, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides nutritious foods, health care referrals, and education about nutrition to families with incomes under 185 percent of the federal poverty level and who are found to be at nutritional risk.

A new interactive report by the Urban Institute shows the number and portion of children by state (and congressional district) who are eligible for WIC based on their family’s income. This is a great tool for policymakers to see how many children in their states are growing up in low-income families and who are potentially at nutritional risk. The report also serves as a useful tool for policymakers as they consider the importance of policies that contribute to the healthy development of children in their states. According to the report, in 14 states 45-54 percent of children ages 0-4 were income-eligible for WIC. In another 19 states 37-44 percent of children were income-eligible. These numbers do not include children who are adjunct-eligible (eligible automatically through TANF, SNAP or Medicaid), therefore, the Urban Institute estimates the number of eligible children would actually increase by approximately 2.8 million children if those who were adjunct-eligible were included in the report.

To see the Urban Institutes full interactive report.

For policies to ensure that Children are Healthy and Prepared to Succeed in School.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Minority Home Ownership in the Boom and Bust

The Urban Institute’s Metro Trends report, Investor Owners in the Boom and Bust, addresses the rise and fall of mortgage lending over the last decade in the hundred largest U.S. metropolitan areas. The report states that in both the boom and bust minority home-owners were disproportionately affected. A higher percentage of African American and Latino mortgage seekers had high-cost loans during the housing boom. In today’s climate, with housing credit tightened, minority borrowing has disproportionately declined. Latino’s are experiencing the largest declines (falling from 18% of all borrowers in 2006 to just 10% in 2008). The report suggests, among other actions, that state and local policymakers create policies that encourage long term investments and home ownership (instead of “flipping”).

The report addresses several issues regarding investor owners over the last decade. To read the Urban Institute’s full report.

For the Urban Institute's Metro Trends.

For the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Facts about High Cost Loans.

For policies to Reduce Preditory Financial Practices.

Monday, April 5, 2010

CSSP Awards $5.4 Million to Test Promising Approaches to Reducing Abuse of Young Children

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) is awarding $5.4 million to organizations to test four promising approaches to preventing abuse of infants and young children whose families live in high-poverty neighborhoods and face numerous stressors. The projects aim to find effective approaches for reducing the likelihood of abuse and neglect in infants and young children because they face the highest rates of maltreatment.

CSSP is awarding each project nearly $1.4 million over 40 months to implement new models and evaluate their effectiveness. Selected from 41 highly competitive proposals, the four projects are located in Denver, Boston, Oregon and South Carolina.

This research is part of the National Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood, a five-year project launched in late 2008 to develop and disseminate new knowledge about programs and strategies that prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal development of infants and children younger than five. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau awarded $10 million to CSSP to develop the Center with its partners ZERO to THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families; and the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds.

Read the full press release and descriptions of the projects.