Report Roundup for February 2003

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Youth Illicit Drug Use Prevention: DARE Long-Term Evaluations and Federal Efforts to Identify Effective Programs
U.S. General Accounting Office

It’s more bad news for DARE, as this report from the investigative arm of Congress reviewed six evaluations of the nation’s most widely used youth drug prevention program and found no evidence that it works. The GAO found “no significant differences in illicit drug use between students who received DARE in the fifth or sixth grade … and students who did not,” that “DARE had no statistically significant long-term effect on preventing youth illicit drug use,” and “no significant difference between the intervention and control groups” in terms of attitudes toward illicit drug use and resistance to peer pressure. The report notes that DARE’s curricula are being revamped under a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant.

The study also reviews efforts by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to identify effective and promising youth anti-drug programs. 20 pages. Free. General Accounting Office, 441 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20548.

Contraceptive Use Among U.S. Women Having Abortions: Patterns in the Socioeconomic Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions
The Alan Guttmacher Institute

These two studies compare data on abortion from 1994 and 2000 to examine the use of contraceptives and social characteristics of women who had abortions in those years.

The first study finds that teenage girls who have had abortions were more likely to be confused about protection and more likely to be in unexpected sexual situations than were older women.

In a study of five age categories – under 18, 18 to 19, 20 to 24, 25 to 29, and 30 and over – adolescent girls were more likely than older women to have had sex without using contraceptives, and more likely to attribute this to their ambivalence about contraception or fear of their parents finding out that they were sexually active. Among the five age groups, they were also the most likely to report that unplanned sex was a reason for not using contraceptives.

However, teenage girls account for the largest decrease in abortions between the two years (from 1.4 million in 1994 to 1.3 million in 2000). Abortion rates among 15- to 17-year-olds dropped from 24 per 1,000 in 1994 to 15 per 1,000 in 2000, a decrease attributed predominantly to improved contraceptive use and partially to delayed sexual activity.

Numbers on emergency contraceptives show that they are still a rare choice, used by 1.3 percent of all women who had abortions. But based on projections using the estimate that 75 percent of emergency contraceptive users successfully prevent pregnancy, emergency contraceptive use might account for almost half of the decrease in abortions between 1994 and 2000. 9 pages. Alan Guttmacher Institute, 120 Wall St., 21st Floor, New York, NY 10005. (212) 248-1111,

The Health and Well-Being of Children in Immigrant Families
Urban Institute

Assessing differences between children in immigrant and native families using several factors, the study’s major finding is that while immigrant children are more likely to live with two parents, two-parent immigrant families are substantially more likely to be low-income than their native counterparts (by 44 percent to 22 percent). Study authors suggest that the disparity may be due to low wages rather than lack of employment, and that work supports such as food stamps and language and literacy training hold some promise in closing the gap. Also, older immigrant youth are more likely to be in fair or poor health and less likely to be involved in most after-school activities (such as jobs, clubs and sports). 9 pages. Free online. Urban Institute, 2100 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20037. (202) 833-7200,

A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Abecedarian Early Childhood Intervention Project
National Institute for Early Education Research

The study found that the Abecedarian Early Childhood Intervention Project, a high-quality child care program used in North Carolina, costs more than some federal and state programs but saves money in the long run. Abecedarian costs about $13,000 per child annually, twice as much as the average Head Start program, but returns $4 in benefits to taxpayers for every $1 spent on the program. Children in high-quality programs earn about $143,000 more over their lifetimes, and school districts save $11,000 per child because of the lower number of children requiring remedial education. Participants were also found to be 16 percent less likely to smoke than those in a control group. 50 pages. Free online. National Institute for Early Education Research, 120 Albany St., Suite 500, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. (732) 932-4350,

Charitable Organizations and the Economy

Half of the 2,725 respondents to the Guidestar survey said that contributions to their nonprofit organizations had decreased over the past year. Nonprofits in the Rocky Mountain states reported the most significant losses, with 29 percent of those organizations reporting that contributions had “decreased greatly.” Organizations most affected by the decrease were groups with reported expenditures below $1 million. Among youth development organizations, half reported some decrease in contributions and 29 percent reported increases. 7 pages. Free online. Guidestar, 427 Scotland St., Williamsburg, VA 23185. (757) 229-4631,

Making Fathers Count: Assessing the Progress of Responsible Fatherhood Efforts
Social Policy Action Network

This report chronicles the movement to focus on fatherhood development. Key staffers in politics and at national foundations reveal an overall view (through interviews) that more positive research on the impact of father presence rather than on father absence is needed to increase efforts to include fathers in welfare-to-work projects. While noting a number of influential fatherhood-friendly leaders – particularly Wade Horn, director of the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – report authors Kathleen Sylvester and Kathleen Reich voice concern about the number of foundations that have stopped funding fatherhood-inclusive programs, such as the Ford Foundation’s now-defunct Strengthening Fragile Families. 82 pages. Free. Annie E. Casey Foundation, 701 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202. (410) 547-6600,

Expanding the Goals of “Responsible Fatherhood” Policy: Voices from the Field in Four Cities
Social Policy Action Network

Another fatherhood document by the Social Policy Action Network supplements its larger work with recommendations made by leading fatherhood advocates in Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis and Philadelphia. The report highlights problems facing low-income fathers, who are often depicted as deadbeats and given little consideration for mitigating factors that contribute to their inability to support and care for their children. Among the recommendations: block grants that provide employment and job training to low-income fathers, and further research by state legislatures into nonsupport. 29 pages. Free. Social Policy Action Network, 444 N. Capitol St., Suite 309, Washington, DC 20001. (202) 434-4770,

See No Evil: How Internet Filters Affect the Search for Online Health
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Many of the filters used by schools and other youth-related facilities to prevent access to pornography also inadvertently block health information, according to this report. While the least restrictive filter settings only block 1.4 percent of health sites, the most restrictive filter controls block 24 percent. Most affected were sites that included the words “condoms,” “Ecstasy,” “gay” and “safe sex.” The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to rule soon on a law requiring Internet filters in libraries, which was argued before the court in October (Eldred v. Ashcroft). 13 pages. Free. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025. (650) 854-9400,

Annual Survey of America’s Charter Schools
Center for Education Reform

Surveying 481 of the nation’s 2,357 charter schools, the center found that charter schools are enrolling fewer students on average and leaving more on waiting lists than they were a year ago. Average enrollment at charter schools fell from 258 in 2001 to 242 in 2002, while the average number of youths on each waiting list jumped from 112 to 166. A large number of charter schools are reaching out to minority and at-risk populations: 43 percent of schools serve populations that are more than 60 percent minorities, and 42 percent serve populations where more than 60 percent of the youths are considered at risk. Less than 7 percent of charter schools have closed over the past decade. 14 pages. Free online. Center for Education Reform, 1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 204, Washington, DC 20036. (800) 521-2118,

With One Voice 2002: America’s Adults and Teens Sound Off About Teen Pregnancy
National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

The survey’s findings indicate a growing conservative view among adults and teens on the issue of teen pregnancy. With results virtually unchanged from last year, most teens and parents support a strong message from society that teens should abstain from sex at least until they are out of high school. But between 2001 and 2002, the percentage of adults who feel that teens should not be sexually active and should not have access to birth control rose from 15 to 23. Nevertheless, a majority of adults (66 percent) and teens (56 percent) believe that that those who are sexually active should have access to birth control, and larger majorities of both groups feel that teens should get more information about both abstinence and safe sex. 35 pages. $10, free online. National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 1776 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036. (202) 478-8500,

Speak for Yourself: What Girls Say About What Girls Need
Girl’s Best Friend Foundation

Using teams of youth and adult researchers, the report provides feedback from more than 200 girls on what they want and need from youth-service providers. Researchers found that girls want a combination of girls-only and mixed-gender activities, and a greater role in the development and direction of programs in which they are involved. Free online. Girl’s Best Friend Foundation, 900 N. Franklin, Suite 210, Chicago, IL 60610. (312) 266-2842,

Privatization of Child Welfare: Challenges and Successes
Children’s Rights

The assessment of welfare privatization initiatives in six states used a case study approach to judge the strengths and weaknesses of particular counties’ conversion to a private system. The result, say study authors, is that privatization produced mixed results. Although some systems improved overall, the study says that cost saving and greater efficiency (the typical rationale for conversion) could not be expected when privatizing. 300 pages. $29.95. Available soon from Child Welfare League of America Publications, P.O. Box 2019, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701. (800) 407-6273,