Report Roundup for March 2003

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Why Rural Matters 2003: The Continuing Need for Every State to Take Action on Rural Education
The Rural School and Community Trust

The second assessment of rural education by RSCT uses 13 indicators – such as average teacher salaries, computer use in classrooms and the share of money spent on transportation – and concludes that 13 states “urgently” need improved rural education policies. The five states most in need, it says, are Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona, North Dakota and Kentucky.

The study notes a number of states where attention to rural education has improved. The most troubling trend, it says, is the high number of states reporting significant decreases in rural school enrollment: Nineteen report that more than 40 percent of their rural schools experienced decreases of at least 10 percent from 1996 to 2002. 98 pages. $10. The Rural School and Community Trust, 1825 K St. NW, Suite 703, Washington, DC 20006. (202) 955-7177,

The Civic Mission of Schools
Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

With the help of the Carnegie Endowment and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the center convened civic engagement experts to discuss what role schools should play to encourage more young voters. After enumerating the need for increased involvement in government and social dialogue among what some see as a growing population of disenchanted youth, the panel’s recommendations are not surprising: More federal funds should go to states for civic engagement in schools, and states should develop a standards-based curriculum to foster classroom discussions of current events. 40 pages. Free. CIRCLE, School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. (301) 405-2790,

Left Behind in the Labor Market

Alternative Schools Network

The rise and fall of wages and job availability within periods of growth and recession are most extreme among young adults and teenagers (ages 16 to 24), this report says. The number of people in that age group who were out of school and out of work increased slightly from 2000 to 2001, from 14.2 percent to 14.8 percent. That’s still lower than the high of 18.5 percent in 1992. Despite representing a much lower percentage of the overall population, youth identifying themselves as black and Hispanic account for 42 percent of those out of work and school. 86 pages. Free. Alternative Schools Network, 1807 W. Sunnyside, Suite 1D, Chicago, IL 60640. (773) 728-4030,

The Formative Years: Pathways to Substance Abuse Among Girls and Young Women Ages 8-22
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

Compiled from a three-year study of substance use patterns among young men and women, this report finds something rather obvious on one level: Girls and boys are different. Researchers, however, identify some patterns of note. Girls are more likely to use drugs and drink as a result of feeling hopeless or sad, and therefore are more likely to develop substance abuse problems. Girls who reach puberty early are also more likely to abuse substances. Further, high school girls who smoke or drink are twice as likely to commit suicide. The report includes recommendations on how to better approach substance use among teenage girls. 189 pages. $25. National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 633 Third Ave., 19th Fl., New York, NY 10017. (212) 841-5200,

The Cost of Protecting Vulnerable Children III
Urban Institute

Part of the “Assessing the New Federalism” series, the study finds that states spent $20 billion on child welfare services in 2000, a 20 percent increase from 1998. The federal share of the pie also increased, which is of concern to some because it raises the potential for programs that are not locally funded to be cut when federal funds disappear. The authors fear that the federal increases will be peeled back if the recession continues or a war begins. 38 pages. Free. Urban Institute, 2100 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20037. (202) 833-7200,

National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals
Centers for Disease Control

The second release of the comprehensive assessment of exposure of the population to environmental chemicals reveals that the number of youth with high blood lead levels has been cut in half since the early 1990s. The most recent report says that 2.2 percent of youth ages 1 to 5 have elevated blood levels, down from 4.4 percent between 1991 and 1994. 257 pages. Free online. Centers for Disease Control, 1600 Clifton Rd., MS D25, Atlanta, GA 30333. (404) 639-3286,

Juvenile Residential Facility Census 2000
Juvenile Offenders and Victims National Report Series

The study focuses on overcrowding of juvenile facilities and the death rate of juveniles in these facilities compared with the general youth population. About 40 percent of the facilities reported having more residents than beds, although the overall average was five empty beds per facility. The study found that the death rate for youth in custody was slightly more than half the death rate for youth (ages 13 to 17) in the general population. 4 pages. Free online. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 810 Seventh St. NW, Washington, DC 20531. (202) 307-5911,

Families on the Edge: Homeless Young Parents and Their Welfare Experiences
Center for Law and Social Policy

This survey looks at how much knowledge homeless young parents have about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and at their experiences applying for and receiving aid. Forty-four percent of respondents had never applied for the aid, with nearly half of those saying they didn’t know about the program. However, the survey found that 84 percent of the homeless youth who applied for the aid received it.

The survey also examined the implications of a rule requiring minors to live with their parents in order to get assistance. Thirty-one percent of those receiving TANF aid who were subjected to this rule said they were forced to live in an unsafe situation (such as moving back into an abusive home). The report recommends that states should provide adequate alternative living arrangements, increase community outreach efforts to young parents, and allow for a transitional period for minor parents to come into compliance with TANF regulations. 36 pages. Free online. Center for Law and Social Policy, 1015 15th St. NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005. (202) 906-8000,

Who Pays and How Much: The Cost of Caring for the Uninsured
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

This report found that Americans received $35 billion in uninsured health care in 2001, with the local, state and federal governments covering about 85 percent of the total costs. The authors assert that the money to provide health care for the uninsured is already in the government systems, because governments are spending $31 billion to cover uncompensated care. They suggest that the money be transferred to a program to subsidize the cost of providing insurance coverage for the uninsured. Under the current system, the report says, governments pay for care in the least effective way – after people get sick and need emergency or hospital care. 74 pages. Free online. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025. (650) 854-9400,

Faith and Action: Implementation of the National Faith-Based Initiative for High-Risk Youth
Public/Private Ventures

This report documents the first phase of the implementation of the National Faith-Based Initiative for High-Risk Youth at small to mid-sized sites. The programs have successfully secured enthusiastic cooperation from representatives in juvenile justice systems and have attracted high-risk youth. The report says the organizations need support to implement programs that are of sufficient intensity and duration to change youth behavior. It calls faith-based organizations an underutilized resource that can address important social issues with the right external supports. 70 pages. $7.50. Public/Private Ventures, 2000 Market Street, Suite 600, Philadelphia, PA 19103. (215) 557-4400,

A Biennial Report of the Kaiser Family Foundation 2003: Sex on TV 3

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

This is the third in a series of studies attempting to identify patterns in the portrayal of sex on television. The study found that 15 percent of all shows with any sexual content included at least one scene with a safe sex reference, up from 10 percent two years ago. Among shows with sexual content involving teen characters, 34 percent contained a safe sex reference, up from 17 percent two years ago. The rate of all shows with sexual content is still high, at 64 percent, but not much different from two years ago. 82 pages. Free online. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025. (650) 854-9400,

Positive Youth Development: A Pathway to Healthy Teens

Grantmakers in Health

This background paper on youth development incorporates ideas shared during a dialogue on the subject. The report gives examples of programs, activities and settings that effectively promote youth development, and offers suggestions for health grant makers, such as involving young people in decision-making processes or incorporating positive youth development principles into the design of strategic initiatives, grant proposal evaluations and grantee training. 44 pages. $30. Grantmakers in Health, 1100 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20036. (202) 452-8331,

Youth Development Policy: What American Foundations Can Do to Promote Policy in Support of the Emerging Field of Youth Development
Brandeis University

This report offers an assessment of current youth policy and the implications for grant makers. It describes the state of American youth development policy, identifies policy-related opportunities for grant makers, looks particularly at youth development policy in Kansas and Missouri, and compares youth development to other fields. It says the youth development field pays inadequate attention to social policies that shape programs and strategies. The report examines key federal challenges, including the modest magnitude of the programs and the lack of developmental principles and policies. The report says state policies are small and underdeveloped, with states providing little support for programs. 85 pages. Free. Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110. (816) 932-1000.

MetLife Survey of The American Teacher 2002: Student Life – School, Home and Community

Completed by Harris Interactive, this study examines teacher and student perspectives on the daily life of youth. Among the findings: Youth who excel in school are more likely to exhibit good health behaviors, particularly in terms of getting enough sleep and eating breakfast. Teachers working among high minority populations were more likely to know a lot about the surrounding community and recognize individuality among their students. Only 24 percent of teachers said they know what is going on in their students’ lives out of school. 215 pages. Free online. MetLife Survey of The American Teacher, One Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010. (212) 578-6252,