Determinants of Adoption Subsidies
Subsidy amounts paid to families who adopt foster children vary widely by state, and by child and adoptive family characteristics, this analysis of data from the federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System finds.
According to the study, 88 percent of all children adopted from foster care receive adoption assistance. However, that ranges from 13 percent in Puerto Rico to 100 percent in South Carolina. The amount of the monthly subsidies also varied, with a national median of $444. Famlies adopting older children and African-American children were more likely to receive subsidies and to have received larger amounts. Abstract online. (919) 485-2666, http://haworthpress.com/store/ArticleAbstract.asp?ID=84865.
The Arts and Civic Engagement: Involved in Arts, Involved in Life
National Endowment for the Arts
People who participate in the arts also engage in positive civic and individual activities – such as volunteering, attending sports events and enjoying the great outdoors – at significantly higher rates than nonparticipants in the arts, this study says. Readers of literature and those who attend arts performances, for example, volunteer at more than twice the rate of those who do not participate in such activities.
The report also finds that over the past two decades, participation in arts and civic activities has declined among young adults (ages 18 to 34); they’re reading less literature, attending fewer arts performances and listening less frequently to jazz and classical radio stations. Free. Eight pages. (202) 682-5400, www.arts.gov/pub/CivicEngagement.pdf.
Reading Disabilities Put Students at Risk for Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior and Dropping Out of School
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Youth who have difficulty reading are three times as likely to consider or attempt suicide, and six times as likely to drop out of school as students of average reading ability, according to this study by Wake Forest researchers. The study followed a group of nearly 200 public high school students for a average of 3.3 years.
Although the researchers also linked psychiatric disorders to suicidal thoughts and dropping out of school, poor reading ability was found to be a risk factor of its own. Previous studies have suggested that youths with learning disabilities are at increased risk of suicidal behavior. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health. Free online. (336) 716-4587, www1.wfubmc.edu/news/NewsArticle.htm?Articleid=1973.
An Update on Teen Court Legislation
U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
This overview of youth court, teen court, student court and peer court (collectively referred to in the report as “teen court”) legislation in the United States provides helpful resources for states wishing to to launch a discussion about the role of teen courts in the community and how to recognize, promote and shepherd their growth. As of January 2006, 25 states had undertaken some form of legislative action on the development of teen court programs.
More than 1,100 teen court programs exist in 49 states and Washington, D.C. They generally provide youth with an opportunity to resolve the consequences of their delinquent actions before a court of their peers, rather than through formal adjudication in the criminal justice system. Free. 12 pages. (202) 307–5911, www.youthcourt.net/publications/paper.pdf.
Florida: An Assessment of Access to Counsel & Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings
National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC)
Florida’s system for providing constitutionally guaranteed defense services to poor children accused of crimes is seriously flawed, according to this report. It finds that a lack of indigent defense resources, late appointment of counsel and multiple systemic barriers converge to deny children in the delinquency system their constitutional right to legal representation.
NJDC found that, in many Florida jurisdictions, youths waive their right to counsel without a basic understanding of the risks of doing so. Factors leading to that decision include: pressure by parents to resolve cases quickly in order to avoid hefty fees and other court costs; pressure by judges to keep the court docket moving; and inadequate time for court-appointed lawyers to meet with their clients before the proceedings begin.
The center also found instances of children shackled in court rooms, and locations where juvenile defenders were responsible for “staggering” caseloads with little or no investigative or administrative support. Free. 122 pages. (202) 452-0010, www.njdc.info/pdf/Florida%20Assessment.pdf.
Children with Higher Intelligence Appear to Have Reduced Risk of Exposure to Traumatic Events and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Michigan State University
Children who are more intelligent at age 6 may be less likely to experience trauma by age 17, and if they do, may be less likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to this report in the November issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
The researchers studied 713 children born between 1983 and 1985 at two Michigan hospitals – one in a disadvantaged urban community and one in a middle-class suburban community. At age 6, the children were given intelligence tests. By age 17, nearly eight in 10 had experienced a traumatic event, and 6 percent met the criteria for PTSD. Those with IQs greater than 115 at age 6 were less likely to be exposed to any type of trauma, especially violent assaults, and were less likely to develop PTSD by age 17 if they did experience a traumatic event.
“The findings underscore the importance of investigating cognitive processes in a person’s responses to challenging and potentially traumatic experiences,” the researchers noted. Abstract online. (517) 432-0920, http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/63/11/1238.
Girls in the ‘Hood’: Evidence on the Impact of Safety
Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)
Youth living in highly impovershed neighborhoods are at risk for myriad problems, including poor mental and physical heath, risky sexual behavior and delinquency. The federal government’s Moving to Opportunity (MTO) initiative tried to improve the odds for such youth by moving their families to communities with less poverty.
This article in PRRAC’s September/October newsletter explores the finding that MTO had positive outcomes only for adolescent girls. The authors attribute that to changes in neighborhood organization and safety that reduced girls’ “female fears” of sexual victimization, verbal and physical harassment, and sexual exploitation. Free. Five pages. (202) 842-2885, www.prrac.org/pdf/GirlsInHood.pdf.
Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions)
One in five teens drinks and drives, and nearly one in eight drives under the influence of marijuana, according to this annual study of teens’ behaviors, attitudes and decision-making regarding issues such as driving, drinking, drug use, sexual activity and family/peer relationships.
Surveyed youth said that when parents set clear consequences for breaking the law – and follow through on them – it significantly reduced the likelihood that they would engage in unsafe behavior behind the wheel. Teens who had never driven while under the influence of any illegal substance were one-third more likely than those who had done so to report having parents who would follow through with consequences. Online. (877) 723-3562, www.sadd.org/teenstoday/parents.htm.
Abstinence Education: Efforts to Assess the Accuracy and Effectiveness of Federally Funded Programs
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
At the request of several members of Congress, the GAO recently completed a review of the Bush administration’s abstinence-until-marriage programs, which over the past decade have received more than $1 billion in taxpayer funds.
The study found that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Children and Families (ACF) – which awards grants that account for the largest portion of federal spending on abstinence education – admittedly neither reviews its grantees’ educational materials for scientific accuracy nor requires grantees to review their own materials for scientific accuracy.
The GAO recommends that the department “develop procedures to help assure the accuracy of such materials used in programs administered by ACF.” The department has agreed to consider the recommendation. Free. 62 pages. (202) 512-6000, www.gao.gov/new.items/d0787.pdf.
Every Child, Every Promise: Turning Failure into Action
America’s Promise/The Search Institute/Child Trends
Few of America’s youth experience many, if any, of the five promises identified as essential to building good character and competence by America’s Promise-The Alliance for Youth, this Gallup survey finds. It was designed by the Search Institute and Child Trends and commissioned by America’s Promise.
The five promises are: caring adults; safe places and constructive use of time; a healthy start and healthy development; an effective education for marketable skills and lifelong learning; and opportunities to make a difference through helping others.
Gallup surveyed more than 4,000 youth ages 6 to 17 and their parents. It found that roughly one in three children, and one-quarter of teens, had experienced four of the five promises. The rate was lower for Hispanic, African-American and low-income youth. Free. 175 pages. (703) 684-4500, www.americaspromise.org/OurWork.aspx?id.