Monday, May 24, 2010

A Tool for Comparing Revenue and Expenditures

The Urban Institute and Brooking Institutions' Tax Policy Center website includes a State & Local Finance Data Query System (SLF-DQS). This query system allows users to create charts and tables using the Census’ State and Local Government Finance series. The series contains detailed revenue, expenditure, and debt variables for all fifty states individually, DC, and the United States from 1977-2007. The data are available by level of government, and users can search by selected states, cities or regions.

SLF-DQS provides users with the option of viewing pre-made tables or running their own query and creating self-determined tables. Pre-made tables include options to c
ompare the composition of U.S. taxes, taxes as a portion of GDP, the income tax, and labor taxes to taxes in other countries. There are also pre-made tables to evaluate state revenues, rates and distributions. The system also presents users with the option to create their own tables by comparing states across the board on a variety of state and local finance-related revenues and expenditures. There are an incredible number of search criteria, including, revenue from tobacco taxes and the lottery and expenditures like education and the cost of police and fire protection.

In a tough economic climate the Tax Policy Center offers great tools for states to evaluate their expenditures in comparison to those of other states. The Data Query system offers a flexible and easy to use tool to
view data along different dimensions, in real or nominal dollars, and as a per capita or a fraction of personal income, general revenues or total expenditures basis.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Annie E. Casey Foundation takes on 3rd Grade Reading!

The Annie E. Casey Foundation announces a 10-year effort to raise 3rd graders’ reading proficiency with the launching of a new report, "Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters". “The evidence is clear that those students who do not read well have a very tough time succeeding in school and graduating from high schools and going on to successful careers and lives,” Ralph R. Smith, the executive vice president of the Baltimore-based Foundation, said in an interview. “The Casey Foundation is putting a stake in the ground on grade-level reading by the end of the 3rd grade.”

As noted on the cover, the report highlights the significance of 3rd grade as the time students move from "learning to read" to "reading to learn".  It goes on to review the reading proficiency data, the factors contributing to the current low rate of proficient readers and the impact of poor reading on a host of outcomes. The recommendations are multi-faceted and include specific actions in the following areas:
  • align learning experiences from birth to 3rd grade to support "reading to learn";
  • engage all adults, particularly parents and caregivers, as partners;
  • focus on results-driven activities to create a culture of learning; and
  • target chronic absences and summer learning.
The report ends with a call to action for all policymakers, educators, community members and families. The foundation will be announcing additional elements of this 10 year campaign in the coming months.  Watch this space for more information as it becomes available!

Sign up to be notified when new policies are added to to address chronic absences. For state policies to address early grade level reading.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Report Evaluates Reentry Programs

A report by the Urban Institute, The Multi-Site Evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative, evaluates the federally funded program designed to improve education, employment, health, and housing outcomes for released prisoners through the provision of services during and after incarceration. Sixty-nine agencies received federal funds to develop eighty-nine programs. Adult males, adult females, and juveniles were all provided services through the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI). The Urban Institute report addresses the aspects of the initiative that have best worked to improve the established outcomes for reintegrating ex-offenders as well as the aspects that did not work well. Further analyses are planned to determine whether there are discrete programs or subgroups associated with positive outcomes as well as to examine the relationship between outcomes and the specific services received.

Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of policies and programs is the best way to ensure that the services provided are having the intended effect. Visit our homepage to sign up for e-mail updates on results-based reentry policy – coming soon.
For a Framework for Policy Success.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Promise Scorecard ™ -designed for Promise Neighborhoods.

The Results Leadership Group has announced the Promise Scorecard ™ - a web-based software application designed for Promise Neighborhoods. Promise Scorecard ™ will help Promise Neighborhood Program applicants to:

  • Link all stakeholders through an interactive, Web-based interface. The tool is simple and easy to use even for "non-technical" users and requires .
  • Organize decision making to work backwards from ends to means - begin with desired outcomes for children and youth and work backwards with data to determine the best means to achieve those ends.
  • Succinctly capture and report the entire decision-making process including underlying analysis and data.
  • Facilitate collaboration and engagement of stakeholders in the decision making process efficiently, systematically, and transparently.
  • Automatically import and filter data from outside databases (ie case management systems, school databases, individual program databases, etc.) on a regular basis.
  • Plot the trend lines of children and youth outcomes measures across a community as well as "customer outcomes" for individual programs, agencies, and service systems.
  • Facilitate and report for a Promise Neighborhood both (1) the initial planning process and (2) continuous, rapid-time monitoring, learning, and improvement.
  • Allows stakeholder to maintain a broad, strategic perspective or, when needed, to "drill down" to as much detail as is desired.
  • Facilitate and report systems thinking - seeing the whole as well as the parts, thinking long-term as well as short-term and, thereby, building integrated continuums of solutions.
For more information -- including a brief pre-recorded webinar demonstration.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Event: Using ARRA Funds for State Infant/Toddler Initiatives

CLASP and National Women's Law Center are co-hosting an event to discuss how states are using Stimulus funds to increase quality child care for infants and toddlers. The free conference call, moderated by Danielle Ewen of CLASP and Helen Blank of NWLC, will be held on Tuesday, May 18 at 2:00 p.m. EST.

The call will feature the following presenters:
  • Evelyn Efinger, Infant Toddler Coordinator, Early Care & Learning Council, New York
  • Debi Mathias, Director of Bureau of Early Learning Services at the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, Departments of Education and Public Welfare, Pennsylvania
  • Wenda Singer, Program Consultant at the Office of Early Childhood Development, Department of Social Services, Virginia
  • Karen Schulman, Senior Policy Analyst, National Women’s Law Center
The Recovery Act provided $2 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, $93.6 million of which was set aside for early care. This event provides an opportunity to learn from states’ strategies for utilizing this funding—from increased training and education for child care providers to the establishment of infant/toddler resource centers in the community—to improve quality care for young children.

Register for “Using ARRA Funds for State Infant/Toddler Initiatives” here.

For more information about states’ use of ARRA funds for early care, see our recent post and “Child Care Development Block Grant Helps States Expand Child Care Efforts” by Financing Community Change.

For policies to increase early care and education.

Monday, May 10, 2010

CBO Report: Losing a Job in the Recession

The Congressional Budget Office issue brief, Losing a Job During a Recession, assesses the future employment and earning potential of those who involuntarily lose their job for reasons other than poor performance or misconduct. The issue brief includes facts and figures on the impact of job loss during an economic down-turn. For example, the report states that on average people that lose their jobs for reasons other than poor performance or misconduct see a loss in earnings when they regain employment in both the short and long term.

The CBO projects that unemployment will remain high for quite awhile. In light of that assumption, the report outlines the expanded eligibility and increased benefits of federal programs available to assist people experiencing financial hardship. This issue brief is a good tool to evaluate the short and long term impact of losing a job in a bad economic climate. For policymakers it offers a great resource for considering the ways in which federal dollars can be used to assist people whose employment has been impacted by the recession.

For Policies Supporting Family Economic Success.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What It Takes to Build a Comprehensive Youth Employment Services System

A recent report from CLASP looks at what is needed for a comprehensive youth employment delivery system and the experiences of several urban communities in developing such systems. The authors argue for a cross-system approach that utilizes public and private resources to link disconnected and at-risk youth with education, training, and employment supports.

Evaluating eight communities, CLASP identified the following key components of a comprehensive youth employment delivery system:

  • A strong convening entity
  • An effective administrative agent
  • A well-trained case management arm
  • Strong partnerships across systems that serve youth
  • High quality work experience and career exposure components

For policies to improve job training and to prepare youth to succeed in life.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brookings Event on the Supplemental Poverty Measure

On May 6th the Brookings Institution is holding an event to discuss the new supplemental poverty measure. Rebecca Blank, Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, will give the opening remarks. The panelists, including, among others, the Brookings Institution’s Ron Haskins, Timothy Smeeding of the University of Wisconsin and the director of the Institute for Research on Poverty, and David Johnson from the Census Bureau, will offer their thoughts on the new supplemental measure.

The current poverty measure has been criticized for not fully taking into account a families’ “real” income because it doesn’t consider government benefits provided to families like housing and supplemental nutrition assistance (food stamps). The current measure is also thought to set an unreasonably low threshold for which to measure poverty by not realistically accounting for the cost of living.

The event will be held in Falk Auditorium on Thursday May, 6th from 9:00- 11:30am. For interested parties that cannot attend the event, a transcript, full audio, and event materials will be posted on the event website.

To register for the event.

To learn more about the new supplemental poverty measure.

To read our blog post on the supplemental poverty measure.