Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Federal Funding for States to Reduce Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

Thanks to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy for sending out the "heads up" on forthcoming federal opportunities:
  • Pregnancy Assistance Fund: Competitive Grants to States to assist pregnant and parenting teens and women.
  • State Personal Responsibility Education Program: Formula grants to states for programs that prevent teen pregnancy and STIs and educate youth on other important topics
  • State Title V State Abstinence Education Grant Program: Formula grants to states for abstinence education programs
  • Fatherhood, Marriage, and Families Innovation Fund proposed by President Obama in his FY 2011 budget. The President spoke about this fund at a Fathers Day event in Washington, D.C. on June 21.
For state policies to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Education: Four Ideas from Brookings

A new policy brief from the Brookings Institution addresses the importance of education to the U.S. economy and provides ideas for ways to improve the U.S. education system. The brief, Spurring Innovation Through Education: Four Ideas, by Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst offers four achievable and low-cost policy proposals:

  • Choose K–12 curriculum based on evidence of effectiveness.
  • Evaluate teachers in ways that meaningfully differentiate levels of performance.
  • Accredit online education providers so they can compete with traditional schools across district and state lines.
  • Provide the public with information that will allow comparison of the labor market outcomes and price of individual postsecondary degree and certificate programs.
The brief does not suggest that the four ideas highlighted would alone be enough to dramatically reform every aspect of education, but rather that education reform should begin with straightforward, ready to implement, and promising actions based on research and past experience. The brief also includes a section on barriers to innovation and reform as well as an examination of two popular education reforms: expanding the public charter school sector at the expense of traditional public schools and setting national standards for what students should know.

This policy brief is a good resource for states considering education reforms. The brief is also a great resource in considering the relationship between educational attainment and GDP.
Visit our homepage to sign up for e-mail updates on results-based policy on high school completion – coming soon.

For a Framework for Policy Success.

For more information on Improving Early Grade-Level Reading.

Friday, June 25, 2010

CLASP’S Hutson on the Connection Between Poverty and Child Maltreatment

Spotlight on Poverty recently featured exclusive commentary by Rutledge Q. Hutson, Director of Child Welfare Policy at Center for Law and Social Policy, who outlines the connection between child abuse and neglect and poverty. Hutson delineates three basic ways in poverty and maltreatment contribute to each other.
  • Poverty can prevent parents from adequately caring for their children.
  • The stress of poverty can be the tipping point into abuse or maltreatment.
  • Other conditions, such as substance abuse or mental health issues, may affect both parents’ involvement in the labor market and their ability to care adequately for their children.
Hutson provides broad policy and financing suggestions to address the relationship between poverty and maltreatment, elevating the creation and maintenance of an integrated service delivery system as key to supporting poor children and families.

Strategies to reduce child abuse and neglect are coming soon to! Sign up for email updates on our homepage.

Policies to support family economic success and build strong and stable families.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Report on Health Reform Shows that the Cost Burden Will Be on the Feds, Not the States

A new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the impact of the new health reform law on both the number of uninsured and new enrollees.  The report also shows that the federal government will pick up the overwhelming majority of the cost. "Health reform will offer Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income adults for the first time and help establish a national floor for Medicaid eligibility that contrasts sharply with the wide variation in eligibility across state Medicaid programs today. ... "For a relatively small investment of state dollars, states could see huge returns in terms of additional coverage for their lowest income residents -- with federal dollars covering the bulk of the bill," said Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the Foundation." (from the press release)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Being "a neighborhood guy before being a neighborhood guy was cool".

We can't help but smile and be proud when someone else shines a spotlight on our history and our founding director, Tom Joe.  A great post on the Building Neighborhoods blog by our friends at United Neighborhood Centers of America reminds us of Tom's prescient words:
Instead of looking at what the whole family needs and how the individual pieces can work together toward those goals, we’ve built up this crazy collection of categorical programs that have little or nothing to do with the family’s real needs.
The Center for the Study of Social Policy has spent 30 years living up to Tom's challenge of integrating services where families live. That place-based focus continues with our work on Promise Neighborhoods, together with our work on systems reform and results-based public policy. Our thanks to Patrick Lester over at UNCA for the shout out.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tomorrow is National Reunification Day!

The first National Reunification Day is being sponsored by the ABA National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System, the ABA Center on Children and the Law, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC), the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), and the National Foster Care Coalition. The goal of National Reunification Day is to celebrate families and communities coming together and to raise awareness about the importance of family reunification to children in foster care. For state policies to support exits from foster care to reunification.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Racial Wealth Gap Increases Fourfold in One Generation

In a recent research and policy brief, the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University discusses its finding that the racial wealth gap has increased fourfold over the past generation, from $20,000 to $95,000.

IASP’s data highlight a significant growth in assets among white families between 1983 and 2007, with the greatest wealth accrued to highest income whites. During this time period, however, high-income African American families’ wealth grew only 25% as much as middle-income white families’.

The disparity in income growth was accompanied by a disproportionate increase in the negative wealth, or debt burden, of African American families. In each year of the study, at least 25% of African American families had no assets.

The expanding racial wealth gap indicates that public policies to support family asset-building and economic mobility are not fully addressing the problem. The data show that job achievement alone cannot predict family wealth holdings; universal policies do not necessarily translate to universal wealth-building outcomes. To close the racial wealth gap, IASP argues, asset-building policies must be revisited and targeted to families of color whose economic security has remained more tenuous than their peers in the workforce.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Forecast for the Class of 2010: How Can Young Adults Weather the Economic Recession?

A new briefing paper from the Economic Policy Institute describes many facets of the dismal labor market situation facing today’s high school and college graduates.  Members of the class of 2010 will be looking to enter the workforce at a time when unemployment rates are “nearly double their pre-recession levels.” The authors discuss how government policy has succeeded and failed to support 2010’s graduates and proffer policies to strength the safety net for young people. They stress public investment and addressing student debt as immediate actions to support the short- and long-term economic security of today’s young adults. Policies to support family economic success.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Updates on!

Two policy areas have been updated with new research-informed policy recommendations: improving grade level reading and reducing child poverty.

School absences start to affect student performance as early as kindergarten, especially for low-income children. Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten, missing 10 percent of the school year, suffer academically in 1st grade. For poor children, the effects can last through the 5th grade. Policymakers can lead the efforts in their states to track this important data and establish chronic absence as an early warning sign of students and schools headed off track for academic success. In partnership with Hedy Chang, the director of Attendance Counts, the Center for the Study of Social Policy has added important new state policy recommendations to reduce chronic absences on

Also new on are updated research and recommendations to reduce child poverty by increasing household financial resources through job creation, controlling household costs by reducing predatory financial practices and more!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New on State Policies to Reduce Teen Pregnancy

Check out the new content on about how state policymakers can reduce teen and unplanned pregnancies.

Effective prevention programs are those that lead to positive behavioral change, like delaying sexual activity and/or increasing correct and consistent use of contraception. But prevention programs alone cannot be expected to impact outcomes on a broad scale. Success depends on a combination of programs and broader efforts that include:
  • Raising awareness and building public will for addressing both teen and unplanned pregnancy.
  • Supporting a broad teen pregnancy prevention approach.
  • Reducing unplanned pregnancies among unmarried young adults.
See more information on strategies to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancies.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Addressing the Needs of Disconnected Youth

The Urban Institute recently released a report addressing promising strategies in youth development, employment and education policy for disadvantaged youth; Improving Education and Employment for Disadvantaged Young Men: Proven and Promising Strategies. The report begins by outlining the problems faced by disconnected youth stating that:
  • Employment rates among less-educated young men, especially young African American men, have declined sharply in recent years.
  • There was no net gain in employment for U.S. teens and young adults over 2000-2007.
  • U.S. teens and young adults have been the largest net losers of jobs in the labor market downturn that began in 2007.
  • During the same time that their labor force participation rates have dwindled, incarceration rates among young men have risen dramatically.
  • At any point in time, large numbers of these young men are "disconnected" from both school and work.
While the report begins by outlining the problems experienced by disadvantaged young men, the bulk of the work is about assessing promising and proven strategies for reconnecting young people to school, work and supportive relationships. While the report discusses programs and policies that are showing some promising trends (but that still require more evaluation), they primarily focus on interventions that have proven to be effective (or ineffective) through rigorous evaluation.

The report considers the scale at which the efforts suggested should be administered, the level of government that would be responsible for implementation, and how to ensure accountability and performance incentives. For policymakers this report provides cost-effective strategies for addressing the needs of a community’s youth – which in turn addresses some of the economic impact experienced in states due to an increasing loss of youth employment.

For More Information on
Improving Job Training.

For More Information on Expanding Work Support Benefits.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Are Teens Placing Themselves at Greater Risk of Becoming Pregnant?

The Centers for Disease Control released a report this week that raises some concerns. "Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing" has generated attention in the media due to two findings in particular:
  • A significant increase in the percent of female teenagers who had ever used periodic abstinence, or the “calendar rhythm” method
  • 14% of females and 18% of males would be “a little pleased” or “very pleased” if they got (a partner) pregnant.
It isn't all bad news such as more teens are combining condoms with hormonal contraceptives, providing protection against both STDs and unwanted pregnancies.  However, the fact that attitudes among teens are relaxing about pregnancy should cause policymakers to stop and take notice.  Many reports in recent months have focused attention on the connections between teen births and low education, poverty and criminal justice involvement.

For state policies to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancies, please enter your email on our homepage and watch this space!