Working Families and Growing Kids
National Research Council, Institute of Medicine
The report, produced by the 15-member Committee on Family and Work Policies convened by the council and the institute, is a virtual encyclopedia of research on current trends involving working parents and the arranged care of their children. The most notable recent family employment trend is the number of working mothers: 68 percent of moms worked in 2000, compared to only 38 percent in 1970. The increased time spent at work by both parents has most affected children 5 and younger, 80 percent of whom spend an average of 40 hours per week with someone other than a parent. 275 pages. $47.20. National Academies Press, 500 Fifth St. NW, Lockbox 285, Washington, D.C., 20055. (888) 624-8373, www.nap.edu.
Getting In, Not Getting In, And Why: Understanding SCHIP Enrollment. Is There A Hole in the Bucket? Understanding SCHIP Retention.
Premium Assistance Programs under SCHIP: Not for the Faint of Heart?
This series of reports provides perhaps the most comprehensive assessment yet of how the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is working. The studies use data from eight states to examine factors affecting the approval or denial of SCHIP coverage, the retention of children eligible for SCHIP and the popularity of premium assistance programs.
The first study cites two main categories for benefit denial: failure to meet eligibility criteria and failure to comply with procedures. The percentage of denials attributed to each category varies significantly based on a state’s policies and income-eligibility thresholds for the larger Medicaid program.
The second study says that only half of the children in SCHIP programs are retained, largely because parents not responding to renewal notices – which many state officials blamed on confusing rules and procedures. The authors say it remains unclear what percentage of children states should expect to retain.
The third study examines premium assistance programs, a provision in SCHIP law that lets states subsidize employer premiums for low-income children and their parents. While a few states reported success, the authors predict that federal restraints will prohibit this program from spreading very far. Free. Urban Institute, 2100 M St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20037. (202) 833-7200, www.urban.org.
The Hidden Crisis in the High School Dropout Problems of Young Adults in the U.S.
The Business Roundtable
The report adds to the steadily gathering base of research that raises questions about how many youth drop out of school in the United States. Compiled for the Roundtable by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, researchers assert that the actual number of dropouts among 16- to 24-year-olds is almost 70 percent higher (850,000) than the figure cited by the U.S. Department of Education (505,000). The report says that figures used by the department discount those who attain a GED, exclude youth in prisons and jails, and do not count those who drop out before ninth grade. The center estimates that the actual dropout rate is around 30 percent. The rate for Hispanics has always been pegged that high, but another report released last month says that may not be the case. (See “Briefly,” p. 7). 55 pages. Free online. The Business Roundtable, 1615 L St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20036. (202) 872-1260, www.brtable.org.
Getting Things Done: Ten Years of National Service
Innovations in Civic Participation
The study weighs the impact of service programs overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service (which includes AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America) by estimating the financial return per tax dollar spent on each. The Senior Corps’ RSVP program comes out on top: In 2000, RSVP volunteers provided $400 million in services at a cost of only $43 million to taxpayers (a $9.30 return on each dollar). AmeriCorps, which study authors said should be expanded to reach maximum potential, returned between $1.60 and $2.60 to the dollar. The study also makes the perfunctory call for collaboration, use of best practices and consistent evaluation. 26 pages. Free. Innovations in Civic Participation, 1776 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 201, Washington, D.C., 20036. (202) 775-0290, www.icicp.org.
Sharp Reduction in Black Child Poverty Due to Welfare Reform
The Heritage Foundation
This research brief credits the 1996 welfare reforms for the 1.2 million poor children “lifted out of poverty” since its passage. The report does not dispute the Children’s Defense Fund’s claim that 145,000 youth fell into “extreme poverty,” but Heritage suggests that using such a statistic is misleading. Those new cases are only evident when using the narrow definition of extreme poverty, which relies on a “near-cash” measurement instead of the total cash available to the family. While touting the successes of reform, the report points out that work levels have not risen nearly enough: 60 percent of able adult welfare recipients still do not have full-time jobs. 6 pages. Free online. Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, D.C., 20002. (202) 546-4400, http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/bg1661.cfm.
Promising Results, Potential New Directions: International FGDM Research and Evaluation in Child Welfare
This report is the first major research publication on the growing child welfare practice of family group decision making (FGDM), which partners child welfare workers with family members in an effort to develop personal plans for the child’s well-being. The process has been incorporated into the reform plans of some states. American Humane – which supports the process – profiles FGDM implementation efforts in the United States and abroad, and presents results from a survey of 150 FGDM participants. The results were largely favorable, particularly in regard to the facilitation by the coordinator and an understanding of each participant’s role. 135 pages. $19. American Humane, 63 E Inverness Drive, Englewood, Colo., 80112. (866) 242-1877, www.americanhumane.org.
Uhlich Report Card 2003
Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network
For the fifth straight year, the network asked teens to grade adults on 20 subjects, such as preventing violence and running the government. And for the fifth time, about half of the youths gave adults failing grades for “stopping young people from drinking.” Adults dropped in several areas but improved in one: “stopping young people from using drugs,” moving from a C-minus to a C. Free. 3737 N. Mozart Ave., Chicago, Ill., 60618. (773) 588-0180, www.uhlich.org.
School Lunch Program: Efforts Needed to Improve Nutrition and Encourage Healthy Eating
U.S. General Accounting Office
The report recognizes improvements in this program during the mid-1990s, but says several changes have yet to be implemented. While studies show that school lunches have generally provided the required amount of nutrients, 75 percent of schools served food with more calories from fat than the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends. Many schools are hesitant to eliminate less healthy foods for fear of losing revenue, the report says. 41 pages. Free online. U.S. General Accounting Office, 441 G St. NW, Room LM, Washington, D.C., 20548. (202) 512-6000. www.gao.gov.
Family Religious Involvement and the Quality of Family Relationships for Early Adolescents
National Study of Youth and Religion
This 1996 survey of 12- to 14-year-old youth and their parents showed that families that are more heavily involved in religious activities are more likely to “enjoy stronger, more positive relationships” than families that are not as religiously involved. The study compares time spent by the family in various religious activities to the child’s perception of the family relationship. The least significant religious factor was parental attendance at worship services. 36 pages. $4. National Study of Youth and Religion, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB No. 3057, Chapel Hill, N.C., 27599. (919) 918-5294, www.youthandreligion.org.
Why, When, and How to Use Evaluation: Experts Speak Out
Harvard Family Research Project
In another attack on the recent Mathematica Policy Research study, “When Schools Stay Open Late: The National Evaluation of the 21st-Century Community Learning Centers Program,” this report says methodological faults and biases undercut its findings. The authors claim inaccurate population and baseline statistics in the report, which was used to help justify a proposed 40 percent cut to the federal after-school program for fiscal 2004. 8 pages. Free online. Harvard Family Research Project, 3 Garden St., Cambridge, Mass., 02138. (617) 495-9108, www.gse.harvard.edu.
Poor Families in 2001: Parents Working Less and Children Continue to Lag Behind
This research brief looks at poor working families and the characteristics of children in poverty. Among the findings: 40 percent of children in poverty have parents who are regularly employed (a decrease for the first time in six years); 40 percent of single working mothers spend nearly half their income on child care; among the working poor, children in single-parent households are more likely to have health insurance than those in two-parent households; and poor children were 4 percent to 7 percent more likely to have behavioral problems in school than children of modest-income families. 10 pages. $5. Child Trends, 4301 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 100, Washington, D.C., 20008. (202) 362-5580, www.childtrends.org.
Public Opinion About Youth Transitioning from Foster Care to Adulthood
Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
This study was designed to explore public knowledge of and perceptions about young people leaving foster care. Through a telephone survey and focus groups, the report found that most Americans know little or nothing about foster care. That said, 89 percent of the respondents said that youth aging out of foster care should receive help transitioning to adulthood. While foster youth generally age out at age 18, most of these respondents said it is not until age 23 that young people usually become self-sufficient. 5 pages. Free. Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, 222 S. Central Ave., Suite 305, St. Louis, Mo., 63105. (314) 863-7000, www.jimcaseyyouth.org/docs/poll1.pdf.
Rigor and Relevance: A New Vision for Career and Technical Education
American Youth Policy Forum
This paper proposes a new version of the Career and Technical Education program (CTE) to better prepare high school and college students for the work force. The forum says funding for the program should come from the federal level, then be allocated to school communities by states. CTE would also benefit from connections between teachers, students and employers at the high school and college levels, to offer students internships and service-learning activities. 24 pages. $5. American Youth Policy Forum, Publications Department, 1836 Jefferson Place NW, Washington, D.C., 20036. (202) 775-9731, www.aypf.org.
Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?
Center for Law and Social Policy
Evaluating indicators for children raised in homes without both biological parents, the center argues that risks associated with such an arrangement are often exaggerated and ignore racial and economic factors. The study contrasts families that include both biological parents with other family structures, such as step-parents, same-sex couples and single parents, while exploring different types of marriages. 8 pages. Free. Center for Law and Social Policy, 1015 15th St. NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C., 20005. (202)906-8000, www.clasp.org/DMS/Documents/1052841451.72/Marriage_Brief3.pdf.
Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development: Lessons and Voices from the Field
The Forum for Youth Investment
The Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development (PLPYD) Initiative, financed by the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, awarded $6 million over four years to nine library systems, starting in 1996. The libraries successfully increased their youth participation through after-school programs, mentoring, youth employment, community service and more. 32 pages. $6. The Forum for Youth Investment, The Cady-Lee House, 7064 Eastern Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 20012. (202) 207-3333. www.forumforyouthinvestment.com.
What Works in Education Reform: Putting Young People at the Center
International Youth Foundation
The foundation analyzes potential reforms of the global education system. Case studies of education systems in Thailand, Poland, the Philippines and Germany are mixed in with chapters suggesting plans to improve educational content, learning supports and the roles of teachers and students. 109 pages. $16. International Youth Foundation, 32 South St., Suite 500, Baltimore, Md., 21202. (410) 347-1500, www.iyfnet.org.
Building an Effective Citizenry
American Youth Policy Forum
This report summarizes findings and recommendations from seven recent policy forums and two field observations about efforts to engage youth in civic activity. Each section provides a one- or two-page write-up of the event, making this an easy read for those looking to get up to speed on the latest thoughts and trends in the field. Contacts are listed for speakers and organizers for each event. 32 pages. $5. American Youth Policy Forum, Publications Department, 1836 Jefferson Place NW, Washington, D.C., 20036. (202) 775-9731, www.aypf.org/pubs.htm.