Report Roundup for June 2005

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Child Welfare

Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Outcomes at Age 19
Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago

The second report from Chapin Hall’s Midwest Evaluation confirms and adds to recent findings on the hardships of youth aging out of foster care. (See “Evaluation Spotlight,” page 32, for related study.)
This study finds that former foster youth face significant challenges as adults, including deficits in their education, mental health problems, economic insecurity, crime victimization and early child-bearing. They are also more likely than their non-foster peers to have been involved with the criminal justice system. On a more positive note, many of the young adults in the study report strong ties to their extended biological families and relatively high levels of perceived social support.
The report says that letting foster youth remain in care after age 18 – as some states do – would increase the chances that they’d receive preparation for independent living, continue their education and have access to health care. Free online. 77 pages. (773) 256-5212.

Financial Literacy

What American Teens and Adults Know About Economics
National Council on Economic Education (NCEE)

Only 12 percent of 2,200 high school students scored a grade of A or B on a 24-question economics quiz that accompanied an NCEE survey earlier this year. Six in 10 students failed. Two-thirds of those earning an A or B were boys. Students’ knowledge of economics has increased slightly since the survey was last administered in 1999.

More than 3,500 adults who took the quiz averaged a grade of C. Although virtually all of the adults surveyed said that economics should be taught in high school, only half of the high school students said they had learned about economics in school. The report stresses that a lack of knowledge about economics affects young people’s ability to manage their personal finances and to function well in a global economy. Free online. 82 pages. (212) 730-7007.


Rite of Passage? Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help
The Commonwealth Fund

More than 13 million Americans ages 19 to 29 lacked health insurance coverage in 2003 – an increase of 2.2 million since 2000, according to this study. Young adults without coverage are more likely than their covered peers to experience problems with medical bills or to forgo needed care.

Many young adults lose coverage under their parents’ policies at age 19, or when they graduate from high school or college. Nearly two out of every five college graduates, as well as half of the high school graduates who don’t attend college, will be uninsured at some point during their first year out of school.

The authors say three policy changes would increase coverage of young adults: Extending eligibility for dependents covered by private policies through age 23; extending eligibility for Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to age 23; and requiring colleges and universities to mandate medical coverage for full- and part-time students, and to offer such coverage. Free online. 12 pages. (212) 606-3800.


Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Secondary School Students
Public Education Network and the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Schools

A four-paragraph section (Title IX, Section 9528) of the 700-page No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires school districts that receive federal funding to provide students’ names and addresses to military recruiters. Schools are required to notify parents of their right to request, in writing, that students’ personal information be withheld from recruiters, but many schools fail to do so, according to this report.

The authors contend that requiring parents to “opt out” of having their child’s records disclosed to the military creates confusion, especially in light of the more widely applicable federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). That act prohibits school districts from disclosing student information unless a parent gives permission.
The report includes action ideas for parents, students and community leaders who object to the automatic release of information to recruiters and sample consent forms to opt out of a records release. Free online. 10 pages. (202) 628-7460.


Rural Children at a Glance
Economic Research Service (ERS), U.S. Department of Agriculture

Nearly 3 million rural children lived in households earning less that the federal poverty level in 2003, representing more than one-third of the rural poor, according to ERS. Despite declines in rural child poverty rates in the 1990s, they remain higher than those of urban children (21 percent vs. 18 percent).

Children in nonmetropolitan areas are more likely than children in metropolitan areas to receive food stamps and free or reduced-price school lunches, to have younger and less-educated parents, and to lack health insurance – measures that reflect higher rural poverty rates. The federal government defines metropolitan areas as counties with one or more cities of at least 50,000 residents, or with an urbanized area of 50,000 or more and a total area population of at least 100,000.

The number of rural children grew by 3 percent between 1990 and 2000, while the number of metropolitan area children grew 16 percent. The nation’s largest share of rural children (45 percent) live in the South. Most of the increase in that region’s population of children occurred among minorities. Free online. Six pages. (202) 694-5436.

Social Security Lifts 1 Million Children above the Poverty Line
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)

This analysis of newly released federal data says Social Security benefits raise the household incomes of 1 million children under age 18 above the federal poverty line. Only the federal Earned Income Tax Credit program lifts more children out of poverty (approximately 2.7 million, according to CBPP).

Researchers found that in 2002, Social Security reduced by about 10 percent the number of children whose families had disposable incomes below the poverty line – from 10.3 million (when Social Security income is not counted) to 9.3 million (when Social Security is counted).

According to 2002 Census Bureau data, 5.3 million children live in a family in which someone receives Social Security or receive the payments themselves as the survivor or dependent of someone who is deceased, disabled or retired.
The analysis includes state-by-state findings. Free online. Seven pages. (202) 408-1080.

Out-of-School Time

Three publications
Harvard Graduate School of Education

The Harvard Family Research Project has available three new publications on out-of-school-time program participation.
The group edited the spring issue of the journal New Directions for Youth Development, which examines participation in youth programs and suggests a new equation (participation equals enrollment plus attendance plus engagement) with which to define, measure, study and increase participation rates in out-of-school programs. Abstracts are available free at

The article, “Engaging Adolescents in Out-of-School Time Programs: Learning What Works,” in the April 2005 issue of The Prevention Researcher, examines incentives and barriers affecting adolescents’ participation in out-of-school time programs. The abstract is free at

The article, “Finding the Right Hook: Strategies for Attracting and Sustaining Participation in After-School Programs,” in the May 2005 issue of The School Administrator magazine, offers recruitment and retention strategies to boost participation in school-based after-school programs. Free online at (617) 495-9108.


Self-Esteem Trajectories among Ethnic Minority Adolescents
New York University (NYU)

The self-esteem of black, Latino and Asian-American public high school students from lower and working class families in New York City increases over time, say NYU researchers, but the amount of increase varies among ethnic groups.
Asian-American adolescents reported lower increases in self-esteem over time, compared with their black and Latino peers. Latinos experienced the sharpest increases, eventually reporting self-esteem that was comparable to their black peers. Boys and girls experienced similar self-esteem trajectories.

Adolescents who reported higher levels of peer/family support and a positive school climate reported higher levels of self-esteem, but the biggest impact on self-esteem was family experiences. Abstract free online from the Journal of Research on Adolescence. (781) 388-8448.

Substance Abuse

Age at First Use of Marijuana and Past Year Serious Mental Illness
U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Nearly 91 million adults, or 43 percent of the country’s adult population, have used marijuana at least once in their lifetimes, according to SAMHSA’s 2002 and 2003 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.

Among those who have ever used marijuana, about 2 percent reported first use before age 12; more than half reported first use between ages 12 and 17; and about 45 percent said they first used marijuana at age 18 or older. Adult males were more than twice as likely as females to report they first used marijuana before age 12.

Among adults who first used marijuana before age 12, twenty-one percent had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness in the past year, compared with 11 percent among those who first used marijuana at age 18 or older. The study cites recent research linking early marijuana use to depression, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

Numerous studies have documented marijuana’s relative harmlessness, according to the lobbyist group Drug Policy Alliance (, and concerns have been raised about the scientific integrity of studies that link marijuana to psychosis. (See “Psychosis, Hype And Baloney,” Free online. Three pages. (240) 276-2130.