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.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Housing and Child Welfare: Funding from HUD

In August, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $20 million in grants to support the Family Unification Program, a partnerships between public housing authorities (PHAs) and local child welfare agencies across the country. The Family Unification Program supports families in the child welfare system by connecting them with stable housing in order to reunite children with their parents and to provide affordable housing and support to young people leaving foster care.

H.U.D recently announced $15 million in new grants to support the Family Unification Program. PHA’s have until December 1, 2010 to apply for the new Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers for the program. The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare is holding a conference from Nov. 15-16, 2010 to learn about creating or maintaining successful Family Unification Program partnerships and to learn more about applying for the funding.

To learn more about the way that housing security intersects with child welfare visit The National Resource Center for Permanency and Child Welfare; they provide a list of resources on the topic.

For strategies to support youth transitioning from foster care visit our homepage to sign-up for e-mail updates on results-based policy regarding youth in transition- coming soon!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Event: Hard Times, Solid Policies to Renew American Communities

The Brookings Institution is holding a forum on October 13th to address the continued hardships facing American cities and states. The event will include two panel discussions, paper presentations, and a key-note address by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Governor Granholm will be joined at the event by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, New York City Deputy Mayor Steve Goldsmith and other experts. The forum is focused on policy solutions for renewing American communities; a strategy paper and three proposals from the Hamilton Project will provide a range of options for individual workers and communities to help recover from the economic crises.
Materials from this event will be available through the Brookings Institution on the event webpage.
To register for this event.
For more strategies on Financing Community Change.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Housing: Just One Piece of the Puzzle

Stressful housing environments have the potential to negatively impact resident’s health long after they have moved to better housing. HOPE VI was developed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to revitalize public housing communities and improve resident’s quality of life. The Chicago Housing Authority, through a grant provided by HOPE VI in 1999, relocated residents from distressed communities in an attempt to provide improved housing in safer neighborhoods. In August, 2010, the Urban Institute released a series of research briefs exploring the outcomes of families affected by this relocation including, “The CHA's Plan for Transformation: How Have Resident's Fared?.”

By tracking 198 sample families, the study provides insight into the results of the Chicago Housing Authority’s efforts to transform dilapidated public housing into healthy communities beginning in October, 1999. The relocation has been viewed as successful as high rises were replaced by mixed-income communities. Today, the majority of the families that relocated in 1999 live in improved conditions. Nevertheless, poor health and low-employment rates continue to plague these residents. Although low-income residents live in somewhat safer neighborhoods, they do not have sufficient access to economic and educational resources. In order to foster economic success, the Chicago Housing Authority has created programs to connect residents to employment and educational opportunities.

For more information on Family Economic Success.

For a previous blog on HOPE VI revitalization programs.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Impact of the Housing Crisis on Children

The total number of home foreclosures across the country in 2009 reached 2.8 million; a 21 percent increase from 2008. This crisis has impacted families, communities and the economy; however the specific impact on children has largely not been researched.

A recent report by The Urban Institute titled, Smallest Victims of the Foreclosure Crisis: Children in the District of Columbia, addresses the impact of the housing crisis on children in the nation’s capital. This report is one in a three-part series of
The National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) to explore how the foreclosure crisis is affecting school-age children in New York, Baltimore, and Washington DC. The report describes the D.C. housing market including trends in foreclosures; includes information regarding households with public school students going through foreclosure; and addresses the implications for the schools and agencies providing housing and services.

While the report states that there has not been an extensive amount of research to date on the effect of foreclosure on children, they do site research stating that:

  • Residential moves caused by economic instability are disruptive and disorienting for children because their parents are occupied with financial concerns and finding a new home.
  • Disruptive or numerous residential moves are linked to children’s academic problems, such as grade retention, school completion, and a lack of interpersonal skills.
  • Several studies have found that residential mobility is mostly detrimental to children when the move is reactive instead of strategic, or if the move was caused by some factor of turbulence within the household, such as a loss of a job or change in family composition.
Understanding the ways that the housing crisis has impacted children is critical for creating policy that addresses the complex needs of families during the recession. This report offers important information about the way that foreclosures have impacted children in D.C. and the ways that systems might respond to the ever growing needs created by the housing crisis. For policymakers across the country this brief presents some compelling ideas that might also relate to their communities.

For more on reducing home foreclosures.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Benefits of Higher Education

CollegeBoard recently published "Education Pays 2010: Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society,” a triennial report that documents the benefits that individuals and societies receive from investing in higher education. In regards to postsecondary education, statistics tend to focus on disparities between high school and college students. The individual benefit of attending college is well-founded as adults with a bachelor’s degree earn $21,900 more in median earnings than high school graduates. Furthermore, the report notes that young adults (20-24) who only earned a high school diploma were 2.6 times more likely to be unemployed in the fourth quarter of 2009 than college graduates. Nevertheless, “Education Pays 2010” stands out due to its concern for the societal benefits of investing in higher education.

A more educated society releases stress on social programs. “Education Pays 2010” found that spending on social support programs and incarceration costs are much lower for college graduates in comparison to high school graduates. College educated adults are more likely than others to receive health insurance and pension benefits from their employers and remain satisfied with their job. Additionally, adults with a bachelor’s degree are believed to smoke less frequently and exercise more often than individuals without a college education.

These statistics indicate both the individual and societal benefit of investments in postsecondary education. Based upon these findings, increased access to postsecondary education will provide tremendous benefits for both low-income families and society as whole. Earlier this month, CLASP opened their Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success in order to facilitate postsecondary educational opportunities for low income families.

For more on Family Economic Success.