Estimating Financial Support for Kinship Caregivers
The Urban Institute
This brief examines government payments to children in private kinship care (77 percent of all cases) and public kinship care, which is arranged by social services agencies. The study finds that few children receive kinship care supports, even though many or even most are eligible and more than half of all children in kinship care live in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Researchers speculate that kinship caregivers avoid applying for child-only grants under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families because they mistakenly believe the grants have work requirements and time limits. Many may also avoid involvement with social services agencies, which could make them eligible for the most generous foster care payments, because they perceive those agencies as invasive. Free. Six pages. (202) 833-7200, www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=311126.
Listening to Parents: Overcoming Barriers to the Adoption of Children from Foster Care John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Since the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, the number of children adopted from foster care has increased 79 percent, with the vast majority adopted by foster parents or relatives. This study examines why so few “general” applicants are likely to adopt the approximately 131,000 children still awaiting permanent homes. It says that only one in 28 members of the general public who contact child welfare agencies ends up adopting a child from foster care. Researchers found that agencies “bent on pre-emptively weeding out those who aren’t interested in hard-to-place children” poorly handle the often intensely emotional first calls of prospective parents. They also found that as agencies struggle to balance recruitment and screening responsibilities, prospective parents can be left feeling overscrutinized and ill-informed. Free. 106 pages. (617) 495-5444, http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/RWP05-005?OpenDocument.
Future of the First Amendment: What America’s High School Students Think about Their Freedoms University of Connecticut
America’s schools are failing to give high school students an appreciation of the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and a free press, conclude researchers who interviewed more than 100,000 students, teachers and school administrators for this study.
Among their findings: Three-fourths of high school students admit either taking the First Amendment for granted or having ambivalent feelings about it; the same percentage of students mistakenly believe flag burning is illegal; half believe the government can censor indecent material on the Internet; and more than one-third think the First Amendment “goes too far” in the rights it guarantees.
Students were less likely than adults to agree that people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions, or that newspapers should be allowed to publish stories without government approval.
The study found that more than one in five schools offers no student media opportunities, such as a student-run newspaper. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation commissioned the two-year project. See related item in “Web Watch,” page 37. Free. 92 pages. (765) 285-8211, http://firstamendment.jideas.org/downloads/future_final.pdf.
Life after High School: Young People Talk about Their Hopes and Prospects Public Agenda
Although the vast majority of young adults, ages 18 to 25, of all races report a strong belief in the value of higher education, financial pressures force many college-bound African-Americans and Hispanics to compromise on their college choices, according to this national survey.
Among the over 1,300 people surveyed, three out of four agreed that college “helps prepare you for the real world,” and 77 percent to 85 percent (depending on race) said “people respect you more when they know you’ve graduated from college.” But, while 60 percent of young whites said that money was not a factor in their college selection, the same number of African-Americans and Hispanics said they would have attended a different college if money were not an issue. About half of young Asian-Americans said money was a factor.
Across all demographic groups, more than half of the young people said their high schools did not have enough counselors to help them plan for their futures. Free. 50 pages. (212) 686-6610, www.publicagenda.org/research/pdfs/life_after_high_school.pdf.
New on the Shelf: Teens in the Library Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago
Youth increasingly view libraries as safe, comfortable and affordable places to do homework, use computers and socialize after school, says this summary of a four-year initiative exploring the role of public libraries in youth development. Parents, communities and policy-makers have also come to see public libraries as part of a support network for youth and as an especially promising community resource for low-income youth.
Researchers conclude that libraries “have the potential to offer high-quality youth development and employment programs that include training in specific job skills and general personal and social skills” – skills from which libraries themselves can benefit.
However, while teens comprise nearly one-quarter of public library patrons, libraries devote proportionately less of their resources to services for that age group. The study was funded by the Wallace Foundation. Free with registration. 24 pages. (773) 753-5900, www.chapinhall.org
Quality of Publicly Funded Outpatient Specialty Mental Health Care for Common Childhood Psychiatric Disorders in California UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
Almost all pediatric evaluations for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder and major depression done by California’s public mental health clinics are comprehensive and thorough, according to this study by the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. However, the clinics do a poor job of documenting crucial medical follow-ups regarding parental involvement, child abuse screening and links to services.
Researchers found that documentation of those activities varied widely, showing up in 8 percent to 74 percent of the medical records of 813 children under outpatient care for at least three months. Nearly three-quarters of the records of children taking psychotropic medication did not contain a single documented instance of medication monitoring by clinical or laboratory means. The study appears in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Free access to an abstract is available at www.jaacap.com. UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute (310) 794-2265.
Gun Storage Practices and Risk of Youth Suicide and Unintentional Firearm Injuries Center for Health Studies
The first large, federally funded study of the protective effects of gun storage practices finds that keeping guns locked and unloaded, and storing ammunition in a locked and separate location, lowers the risk of unintentional injuries and suicide among youth by up to 70 percent. The study appeared in the Feb. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Researchers used data on storage practices from 106 incidents in which youths under age 20 gained access to a firearm and shot themselves or someone else, either intentionally or not. They used control data from 480 households that had children and at least one firearm, but no reported incidents. Eighty-two of the shootings were suicide attempts (95 percent fatal) and 24 were unintentional injuries (52 percent fatal).
Compared with guns in the control group, guns from households with shooting incidents were 70 percent less likely to be stored unloaded, 73 percent less likely to be stored in a locked location, 55 percent less likely to be stored separately from ammunition and 61 percent less likely to have their ammunition stored locked. The findings were consistent for both handguns and rifles, and for both suicide attempts and unintentional injuries.
About 35 percent of homes with minor children report having at least one gun, with 43 percent of them unlocked. The presence of a household firearm is associated with a five- to 10-fold increase in the risk of suicide among adolescents. There were 828 firearm suicide deaths among people under 20 in the United States in 2002. JAMA (206) 287-2653. Abstract available free at http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/293/6/707.
Developing Children, Developing Media: Research from Television to the Internet Children’s Digital Media Center
Several articles in a special edition issue of the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology focus on the evolving nature of the Internet and the dynamics between youth and various online mediums. Among other findings, researchers report that: • Teens frequently turn to the Internet for information about dating, sex and romance. • Race is a popular topic and identifier in teen chat rooms. • Teens use elaborate codes to avoid adult censorship of their online discussions. • About 40 percent of teens have pretended to be someone else online at least “a couple of times.”
Many of the studies raise concerns about the easy access teens have to adult literature and pornographic materials, whether intentional or unintentional. The researchers employed a wide range of methodologies, including signing into teen chat rooms to collect data on the nature of the interaction, making the studies relevant and valuable to parents and youth workers alike. Children’s Digital Media Center (310) 206-0511. The articles are available free at www.cdmc.ucla.edu.
Keeping Youth Safe: A Report on Violence Prevention in the Bay Area United Way of the Bay Area (UWBA)
Counties in the San Francisco Bay Area spend an average of 98 percent of their Juvenile Justice and Crime Prevention Act funds on violence prevention rather than on law enforcement or violence suppression, according to this study. Most are making good use of what they say are limited, and threatened, financial resources.
UWBA compared and graded prevention programs in seven counties on two sets of key indicators. “Safe Community” grades were based on rates of assault victimization, self-inflicted injury and incarceration, student/counselor ratios and the percentage of youth graduating with University of California and California State University qualifications. “Resources for Youth” grades were based on how communities use state and federal funds to provide crime prevention, after-school, job training and health resources for youth.
Most counties received grades of “C” or better in each category. Marin County placed first in the Safe Communities category with an “A-”; San Francisco placed first with the same grade in the Resources for Youth category. Free. 24 pages. (415) 808-4300, www.uwba.org/uw_impact/Reports/keepingyouthsafe1.pdf.