2006 KIDS COUNT Data Book
Annie E. Casey Foundation
The 17th annual installment of this coveted resource shows that child well-being has changed little since 2000, after several years of improvement in the 1990s. Among the 10 indicators measured, child deaths, teen deaths and teen birth rates have declined since 2000, while the high school dropout rate has improved. At the same time, the report finds increases in child poverty, low-birthweight babies and the number of children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment. Some of the changes were small.
As always, the book invites browsers to spend hours swimming through its sea of data and analyses, which portray the outcomes using such factors as states and race. Mississippi ranks lowest on four of the indicators, while New Hampshire claims the highest ranking on five of them.
The book includes an essay about strengthening “family, friend and neighbor care,” which Casey says is largely overlooked, even though an estimated 6.5 million children under age 6 spend some time in such settings. The foundation is advocating various steps to improve the quality of that care, including expanding technical assistance and promoting best practices. 184 pages. Free at www.aecf.org.
Meth and Child Welfare: Promising Solutions for Children, Their Parents and Grandparents
Generations United (GU)
This report features findings from GU’s recent survey of 13 states, and the front-line stories of caregivers, case workers, doctors and others familiar with the impact of methamethaphine use on families.
Forty percent of the child welfare officials surveyed reported an increase in out-of-home placements during 2004-2005 due to meth, while 40 percent of law enforcement agencies had begun reporting meth as their No.1 drug problem by 2004. Of California counties with meth problems, nearly half reported that an increasing number of families whose children had been placed outside the home could not be reunified; 56 percent said reunification takes longer for families involved in meth use; and 27 percent said reunifications that do occur for such families are less likely to last.
There has been debate, however, over how severely the meth problem has affected most child welfare agencies, and some treatment providers say there are well-established methods for dealing with meth abuse in families. (See “The Meth Epidemic: Hype vs. Reality,” Oct. 2005.)
GU promotes subsidized guardianship as one way for child welfare agencies to deal with the meth problem. That legal arrangement provides financial support for children to live with family friends or relatives who agree to provide a safe, loving home, but not pursue adoption. Free. 45 pages. (240) 432-8563, http://ipath.gu.org/documents/A0/Meth_Child_Welfare_Final_cover.pdf.
Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public and Leadership Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century
Nearly eight in 10 Americans surveyed by Public Agenda said that if their public library closed due to a lack of funding, they would feel as if “something essential and important” to the community had been lost. Respondents said they saw libraries as potential providers of literacy education, services for teens, information about government services and public access to computers.
When asked to name public services that are doing an “excellent” job, more respondents named libraries (31 percent) than the local police department (22 percent), public schools (18 percent), local media (12 percent) or local government (7 percent). The research was conducted with support from the Americans for Libraries Council, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Free. 84 pages. (212) 686-6610, www.publicagenda.org/research/pdfs/long_overdue.pdf.
Service Coordination Strengthens Youth Re-entry
National Collaboration for Youth and National Juvenile Justice Network
This policy brief focuses on the importance of service coordination among public and private agencies to address the multiple needs of incarcerated youth as they re-enter society. It explores federal and state policy initiatives to encourage coordination, addresses the issue of information sharing and juvenile confidentiality, and highlights local programs that are noteworthy for their public and private partnerships. Free online. 6 pages. (202) 347-2080, www.nassembly.org/ncy/documents/ReentryBrief.pdf.
Volunteering in America: State Trends and Rankings
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
This first look by the federal government at citizen volunteering across the states finds wide variations. One consistency: In every state, women volunteer at higher rates than men, and women with children and women who work volunteer at higher rates than other women.
Volunteers between ages 16 and 24 committed themselves to an average of 36 hours of service per year, while volunteers 65 and over served an average 96 hours. More than one-quarter of volunteers gave time to educational or youth-serving organizations, making that category the second most popular, after religious organizations.
Utah led the nation in virtually all categories of volunteering, including the highest volunteer rate – 48 percent, compared with the national average of 29 percent. In general, the study found, volunteer rates among minorities are substantially lower than among non-Hispanic whites. Abstract available online. (202) 606-6724, www.cns.gov/about/newsroom/releases_detail.asp?tbl_pr_id=397.
Way to Go: School Success for Children with Mental Health Care Needs
The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
This report and its six accompanying fact sheets document how states and school districts have combined school wide positive behavior support (PBS) with mental health services to foster an environment conducive to learning and improving children’s lives. PBS is a system for creating and adapting environments and support patterns to help youth see problem behaviors as a waste of their time and energy.
With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Bazelon Center interviewed policymakers, educators and mental health administrators, and visited the sites of six PBS school/mental health initiatives in Illinois, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, New York and Texas. The report reflects the center’s conclusion that the PBS/mental health collaboration “has produced excellent results and won widespread support among stakeholders” while being “affordable, cost-efficient and effective.” It enumerates policy steps for state, local and federal governments and offers information about potential funding. Order online. $25. (202) 467-5730, www.bazelon.org/publications/children/index.html#waytogo.
Learning From Small-Scale Experimental Evaluations of After School Programs
Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP)
The project’s series of Out-of-School Time Evaluation Snapshots distills information compiled in its Out-of-School Time Program Evaluation Database and Bibliography into a single report. The latest Snapshot reviews small-scale experimental evaluations of after-school programs, and highlights the evaluation strategies and results of seven programs with diverse goals, activities and components.
The programs are: the Cooke Middle School After School Recreation Program (Philadelphia), Go Grrrls (Tucson, Ariz.), the Hispanic After School Program (in a “semirural town” in Massachusetts), the Gevirtz Homework Project (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Girlfriends for KEEPS, (Minneapolis, Minn.), the Howard Street Tutoring Program (Chicago) and an unidentified program in an East Coast inner city. Free. 8 pages. (617) 495-9108, www.gse.harvard.edu/hfrp/content/projects/afterschool/resources/snapshot8.pdf.
The Prevention Researcher
Integrated Research Services Inc.
The April issue of the Prevention Researcher focuses on helping adolescents with incarcerated parents. Articles include: “After Incarceration: Adolescent-Parent Reunification,” “Providing Support to Adolescent Children with Incarcerated Parents,” “Resilience of Girls with Incarcerated Mothers: The Impact of Girl Scouts” and “Rights and Needs of Children of Incarcerated Parents.”
The journal says that approximately 1.5 million children have a parent in prison. That figure does not include youth with a parent in jail. Incarceration rates have quadrupled over the past 30 years, say the authors, and those who are incarcerated are serving longer sentences. Available online for $5 per article. 800-929-2955, www.tpronline.org/issues.cfm?articleID=421.
Teen Girls Feel Pressure to Have Unwanted Sex
Indiana University Medical Center
More than four in 10 girls ages 14 to 17 say they have been pressured to have sex when they didn’t want to, and 10 percent say their boyfriends forced them to have sex, according to this survey of nearly 300 young women. More than one-third of girls who had unwanted sex said they did so because they were afraid that their boyfriends would be angry with them if they said no.
Being in a long-term relationship, having a baby with her partner, substance use, infrequent use of condoms and feeling a lack of control over sexual partners all increased the likelihood that a girl had been pressured into sex.
The findings appear in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Abstract available online. (312) 670-7827, http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/160/6/591.
Trends and Recent Estimates: Sexual Activity Among U.S. Teens
Fewer teens are having sexual intercourse; sexually experienced teens are less likely to report they’ve had sex before age 15, and sexually experienced teens don’t always remain sexually active, says the latest research brief from Child Trends. The brief’s figures are drawn from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The percentage of teens who reported ever having sexual intercourse has declined among all age groups. In 2002, forty-six percent of never-married teens (ages 15 to 19) said they had ever had sexual intercourse, compared with 60 percent of males and 51 percent of females in 1988. The brief also presents data on oral sex, finding that one in six 15- to 17-year-olds has had oral sex but not sexual intercourse, and on first sexual partners, finding that 37 percent of females had their first sexual experience with a partner three or more years older than they were. Free. Eight pages. (202) 572-6000, www.childtrends.org/Files/SexualActivityRB.pdf.
Safe Passage: How Philanthropy Is Working Together to Help All of America’s Youth Connect by Age 25
Youth Transition Funders Group (YTFG)
The strategies outlined here highlight some of the ways that grant makers can make more prudent and effective investments in youth who are transitioning to adulthood. The authors say this is the first time the primary private funders in the youth work field – including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corp., the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation – have “hammered out a common philosophy and strategy” for such investments.
The group identifies three critical points during transition to adulthood that merit focused attention: an interrupted education, court involvement and foster care placement. The suggested interventions include multiple pathways to college and careers; opportunities and alternatives to incarceration; supports for youth involved in the foster care system; and systemwide reform, with an emphasis on collaboration. Free. 36 pages. (312) 276-4365, www.ytfg.org/documents/YTFGSafePassageBookfinJun2006.pdf.