Report Roundup for February 2005

Print More

Child Welfare
Foster Youth: HHS Actions Could Improve Coordination of Services and Monitoring of States’ Independent Living Programs U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

The GAO’s second look at Independent Living (IL) programs for foster youth examines how the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 (FCIA, or the “Chafee Act”) changed the nature and extent of services provided by states to foster youth preparing to “age out” of care at age 18, and to those ages 18 to 21. FCIA doubled funding for IL services from $70 million to $140 million, and adjusted an allocation formula that provided additional funding increases for many states. Forty states reported expanding independent living services to younger youth, and 36 states expanded services to older youth. Gaps remain across the states in the provision of key services such as mental health care, mentoring and housing, and in the numbers of youth and foster parents participating in the programs. Almost all of the states reported increased levels of service coordination under the act.

But the absence of a uniform reporting format and lack of standard monitoring practices among regional offices of the U.S. Administration on Children and Families hindered assessments of state IL performance, the GAO reports. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is developing an information system that may improve program accountability and expects to issue a proposed regulation in 2005. IL proponents wonder why such a regulation still isn’t in place, more than five years after the act’s passage. Free. 62 pages. (202) 512-4800,

Parent-Teen Relationships and Interactions: Far More Positive Than Not Child Trends

A recent public opinion poll by the research group Child Trends found that while less than one-third of parents say they influence their teens more than friends or peers do, most teens report that they think highly of their parents, want to be like them and enjoy spending time with them. This issue brief examines findings from several United States studies, including the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, that show a link between positive parent-child interactions and a wide range of positive outcomes for teens. The brief reviews similar research findings from other industrialized countries. Free. Eight pages. (202) 572-6138,

Juvenile Justice
Changing the Status Quo for Status Offenders: New York State’s Efforts to Support Troubled Teens The Vera Institute

A 3-year-old New York State program for status offenders is helping to get disobedient, but not delinquent, children back on track while relying less on courts, law enforcement and detention – a plan that is also yielding significant cost savings. The report examines the work of the Vera Institute’s Youth Justice Program to facilitate collaborative reforms for PINS (Persons in Need of Supervision) in four counties.

The program attempts to keep kids out of family court and reduce reliance on out-of-home placements by quickly connecting them to services and developing credible, community-based alternatives to detention and placement. Jurisdictions looking for ways to improve their own PINS, CHINS (Children in Need of Supervision) or FINS (Families in Need of Supervision) systems will find useful models of evidence-based and cost-effective approaches in this summary of lessons learned in New York. Free. Eight pages. (212) 376-3038,

Mental Health Treatment for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System National Mental Health Association (NMHA)

According to NMHA, an estimated 60 percent of youth involved with the juvenile justice system have a mental health disorder – nearly three times the rate for youth in the general population (22 percent). This compendium highlights treatment practices for mentally ill juvenile offenders that are known, through evidence-based research, to be effective, and previews practices that show promise with special populations, such as girls and youth of color.

It also profiles 12 programs that are successfully addressing the mental health needs of youth in the justice system, including The DAWN Project and Family Matters. The report concludes with a discussion of practices that “just don’t work” for youth, such as incarceration in adult prisons, curfew laws and juvenile boot camps. Free. 21 pages. (703) 838-7551,

Missing Children
National Estimates of Missing Children: Selected Trends, 1988-1999 U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)

This OJJDP bulletin compares selected findings from 1999’s National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2) and its 1988 predecessor, NISMART-1. The analysis, based on household surveys of adult caretakers, examines victims of family abductions, runaways and children categorized as “lost, injured, or otherwise missing.” Additionally, researchers divided cases in each of these three categories into “broad scope” (all cases) and “policy focal” (more serious cases meeting additional criteria). They found no significant increases in the number of incidents in any of the categories, and decreased incident rates in both “broad scope” family abduction episodes and “broad scope” lost, injured, or otherwise missing episodes. Free. Eight pages. (202) 307-0703,

Special Issues in Nonprofit Financial Reporting Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University, and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, The Urban Institute

Pressure from donors and the public to keep administrative and fund-raising expenses low may be leading nonprofits to underreport them, according to this joint study. The Nonprofit Fund Raising and Administrative Cost project found that 37 percent of nonprofits receiving private contributions of $50,000 or more in 2000 reported no fund-raising expenses. Of that group, nearly 20 percent of organizations that raised $5 million or more said they had no fund-raising expenses. The study’s authors say it is unlikely that so many nonprofits would have no fund-raising costs. They say underreporting is probably caused by misunderstood accounting rules, weak accounting and management infrastructure, and incentives that encourage poor recordkeeping. Free. 16 pages. (317) 278-8906,

Substance Abuse Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Among Young Persons U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SAMHSA reports that more than 4 million youth ages 16 through 20 drove under the influence of either alcohol or drugs in 2002 and in 2003 – representing more than 20 percent of all youth in that age group. The percentage decreased slightly from 22 percent in 2002 to 20 percent in 2003.

Combining data for both of those years from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), SAMHSA found that 14 percent reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs, 17 percent reported driving under the influence of alcohol, and 8 percent reported driving after consuming a combination of drugs and alcohol. Only 4 percent of youth who reported driving under the influence had been arrested for a DUI offense in the year preceding the survey. Free. 13 pages. (240) 276-2127,

A related SAMHSA report based on NSDUH found that the lower a family’s income, the more likely it was that youths in that family had used cigarettes or an illegal drug in their lifetime. “Youth Substance Use and Family Income” is free at

Gun Violence: The St. Louis Consent-to-Search Program National Institute of Justice (NIJ)

The third report in NIJ’s Reducing Gun Violence series evaluates an innovative police program that used neighbors and other community-based sources to identify homes where juveniles might be harboring guns. Police knocked on the doors of the homes, and asked the parents and guardians of high-risk youth for permission to search for and confiscate illegal guns. There was no attempt to prosecute anyone as a result of the searches.

Although the program was recognized as a success in its first year (1994) – when police confiscated 402 guns and encountered remarkable cooperation within communities – it later experienced serious implementation problems and was terminated in 1999. This report describes the program’s setbacks and implications for community policing. Free. 31 pages. (202) 307-2942,

Youth Employment
What Is Happening to Youth Employment Rates? Congressional Budget Office (CBO)

In a report that examines the youth labor market during the peak employment years of 1979 and 2000, and during years of economic downturn from 2000 to 2003, the CBO finds fluctuations in employment largely related to gender and age. It also finds that increased school attendance rates for both male and female youth have put “downward pressure” on overall youth employment, which fell from 44 percent in 2000 to 36 percent to 2003.

Among 16- to 24-year-old males, falling employment rates for those not enrolled in school accounted for half of a 9 percent decline from 1979 to 2000. For girls and women, however, employment rates increased from 1979 to 2000, whether they were enrolled in school or not. Free. 20 pages. (202) 226-2602, Employment.pdf

Youth Workers
Working with Teens: A Study of Staff Characteristics and Promotion of Youth Development University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

Youth workers’ perceptions of their own competence is critical to their job satisfaction and intention to continue working in the field of youth development, according to a new national report that examines the characteristics of youth program staff. The University of Nevada’s Cooperative Extension Service looked at the relationships between youth workers’ experience, training, educational background and self-reported competency, and the implementation of features found to be key to positive youth development programs, as outlined in a landmark 2002 National Academies of Science report.

Results from the study indicate that youth program staff with formal education in youth development or related fields, or those who have a high level of street experience, rate themselves as highly competent overall. Attending professional training sessions was also related to feelings of competency.

Interestingly, the researchers found that males consistently rated themselves lower than females in all competency areas – a finding they say may be related to youth work’s strong emphasis on building and nuturing interpersonal relationships. Free. 25 pages. (702) 257-5542,