Report Roundup for November 2006

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Child Welfare

Family Assessment in Child Welfare Services: Instrument Comparisons
The Center for Social Services Research in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley

Family assessments help child welfare workers explore risk and safety issues with families, predict future harm, and guide and structure initial decision-making. This review evaluates literature on 85 family assessment instruments and provides practical recommendations about selecting them.

Seven instruments appeared to be “the most comprehensive and appropriate for use in the child welfare setting,” the report says. They include the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale (NCFAS), the NCFAS for Reunification, the Strengths and Stressors Tracking Device, the Family Assessment Form, the Family Assessment Checklist, the Ackerman-Schoendorf Scales for Parent Evaluation of Custody, and the Darlington Family Assessment System. Free. 34 pages. (510) 642-1675,


A Guide to Developing and Operating Host Home Programs for Youth in Crisis
The Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services

The Host Home model was developed by New York State “to provide short-term, safe and nurturing shelter to runaway and homeless youth in host family settings.” Host Homes can help youth stay in their communities and maintain their routines during a crisis; make them feel safer than they might feel at group shelters; and give them a chance to observe the interaction and problem-solving styles of other families.

The guide presents information, best practices and resources on launching and operating a Host Home program, as shared by New York agencies with host expertise. It provides practical examples and discusses issues faced by staff, youth and host families. Free. 68 pages. (212) 966-6477,


Synthesis of Research on Disproportionality in Child Welfare: An Update
Casey-CSSP Alliance for Racial Equity

African-American youth are overrepresented in the nation’s child welfare system – more likely than whites to be removed from their homes and more likely to have their parents reported for abuse and neglect – despite similar rates of actual abuse and neglect across races, according to this new analysis of several federal data sets. Once in foster care, African-American youth receive fewer visits from caseworkers and fewer mental health services than do white children, researchers found.

Nearly 37 percent of the nation’s 500,000 foster youth are African-American, although African-Americans make up only 15 percent of the child population. In contrast, white youth make up 61 percent of the child population, but represent 46 percent of youth in foster care. The Alliance for Racial Equity is a joint initiative of five Casey family foundations and the Center for the Study of Social Policy. 60 pages. Available free at (206) 282-7300, >  


The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, 2006: Expectations and Experiences

Although teachers’ career satisfaction is at a 20-year high, more than one-fourth of teachers say they are likely to leave the profession within the next five years, according to this annual survey.

The findings indicate that 56 percent of teachers are very satisfied with teaching as a career – a 70 percent increase over findings reported in the 1986 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. However, 27 percent of teachers say they expect to change occupations within five years, and veteran teachers (those with 21 or more years of experience) are more than twice as likely to say they will leave the profession. The survey also looks at the expectations of teachers upon entering the profession, factors that affect career satisfaction, and the perspectives of education leaders on teacher preparation and long-term support. Free. 167 pages. (800) 638-5433,

Employment/Job Training

The Impact of New Immigrants on Young Native-Born Workers, 2000-2005
Center for Immigration Studies/Northeastern University

The arrival of new immigrants (legal and illegal) in a given state is generally accompanied by a decline in employment among young native-born workers in that state, suggesting that immigrants are displacing young American workers from entry-level jobs, according to this report.

It says 4.1 million newly arrived immigrant workers accounted for 86 percent of the net increase in the number of employed people (ages 16 and older) in the United States between 2000 and 2005 – the highest share ever recorded. During the same period, the number of employed, native-born males ages 16 to 34 declined by 1.7 million, while the number of male immigrant workers increased by 1.9 million. Free. 12 pages. (202) 466-8185,


Are They Really Ready to Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce
Corporate Voices for Working Families

This report analyzes which skills employers believe youth need in order to succeed in today’s work force. Seventy percent of the employers surveyed cited high school graduates’ deficiencies in applied skills such as professionalism and work ethic, and 72 percent cited deficiencies in basic English writing skills, including grammar and spelling.

The applied skills listed as most desirable by employers included: professionalism/work ethic, oral and written communicaitons, teamwork/collaboration and critical thinking/problem-solving. Employers indicated that those skills were somewhat more important than academic knowledge such as reading comprehension and arithmetic. Free. 64 pages. (202) 333-8924,


Human Service Programs: Demonstration Projects Could Identify Ways to Simplify Policies and Facilitate Technology Enhancements to Reduce Administrative Costs
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

The GAO examined how the administrative costs of human services programs are defined, which rules govern federal and state funding of those costs, the typical amounts of administrative spending, and opportunities to help states balance cost savings with program effectiveness. Its review covered seven human service programs, including some that affect youth: Child Support Enforcement, food stamps, Foster Care, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, unemployment insurance, Adoption Assistance, and the Child Care and Development Fund.

In fiscal 2004, the seven programs spent a combined $21 billion on administrative costs, accounting for about 18 percent of their total program spending. The GAO recommends that Congress consider authorizing state and local demonstration projects that are focused on simplifying eligibility determination and other processes in federal human service programs. Free. 58 pages. (202) 512-7215,

Sexual Behavior

U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity
Guttmacher Institute

The United States’ teen pregnancy rate (for 15- to 19-year-olds) declined by 36 percent from 1990 to 2002, according to new data from Guttmacher. Additionally, the teen birth rate declined by one-third between 1991 and 2004, according to new federal statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 1991 to 2004, the teen birth rate declined for all racial and ethnic groups: 21 percent among Hispanics, 37 percent among Asian/Pacific Islanders, 38 percent among non-Hispanic whites, 38 percent among American Indians, and 47 percent among non-Hispanic blacks. The overall U.S. teen birth rate is now at a record low of 41.1 births per 1,000 women. Free. 24 pages. (800) 355-0244,


How Medical Inaccuracies, Fear, and Shame in Federally Funded Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs Put Our Youth at Risk
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SEICUS)

SIECUS has released reviews of three abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula used by programs throughout the nation: WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?) Training, Why kNOw, and Heritage Keepers. The reviewers found that the curricula contain “messages of fear and shame, gender stereotypes and medical misinformation that put young people at risk.” Since fiscal 2001, the programs that use these curricula have received more than $6 million in federal funds. Online. (212) 819-9770 ext. 325,

Out-of-School Time

Measuring Outcomes for Children and Youth in Out-of-School Time Programs: Moving Beyond Measuring Academics
Child Trends

In the inaugural release of its new Research-to-Results series, Child Trends provides resources for practitioners, funders and researchers on measuring child outcomes in out-of-school time programs. The report discusses outcomes in four domains: educational achievement and cognitive attainment, health and safety, social and emotional development, and self-sufficiency. It also identifies tools that agencies can use to measure outcomes in those areas.

The new series includes fact sheets, research briefs, and practitioner insight reports with critical information about new research, evaluation techniques and basic information to help service providers and others use research and evaluation to improve programs for youth. Free. 5 pages. (202) 572-6000,

Youth Development

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds
American Academy of Pediatrics

This clinical report emphasizes the importance of play to a child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being, while listing factors that have reduced time for play in children’s lives. Time for recess and free child-centered play are being reduced at very early ages to make room for increased attention to academics and enrichment activities, according to the report. It cites changes in family structure, higher expectations of children and passive entertainment as contributing factors.

The report includes advice for pediatricians on how to promote free play, and to help families, school systems and communities seek a balance in children’s lives. Free. 32 pages. (847) 434-4000,