Evaluation of Court Appointed Special Advocates/Guardians Ad Litem Volunteer Impact
The National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association
Nearly half of 550 family court judges who participated in this survey said they routinely assign dependency cases to a CASA volunteer or a guardian ad litem (GAL). Those cases most likely to be assigned a CASA/GAL volunteer by a judge involved instability in the child’s current placement, conflicting case information, concerns about implementation of services and extreme neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse, according to survey findings.
CASA/GAL volunteers are trained community members who speak for the best interests of children in court. Only 6 percent of judges said they “strongly agree” that the number of volunteers is sufficient to meet the needs of their courts.
A 2004 evaluation of the CASA program by Caliber Associates found that investigations by CASAs were associated with higher rates of removal from parents, less kinship care and less reunification with parents. (See “An Evaluation of Volunteers Courts Controversy,” July 2004.) Free. 37 pages. (800) 628-3233, www.casanet.org/download/casa-surveys/0510_casa_eval_report_0024.pdf.
Participation in Sports and Civic Engagement
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE)
Young people with a history of sports participation report higher levels of voting, volunteering and community engagement than do nonparticipants, according to this report from CIRCLE at the University of Maryland. Researchers found that 18- to 25-year-olds who participated in sports during their high school years were more likely than nonparticipants to have volunteered (32 percent vs. 21 percent), registered to vote (58 percent vs. 40 percent), voted (44 percent vs. 33 percent in 2000) and followed the news closely (41 percent vs. 26 percent). The differences persisted even after adjusting for the possibility that common demographic factors accounted for both sports participation and civic engagement.
Approximately 7 million high school students participated in athletic programs during the 2004-2005 school year – up from 5.3 million in 1990, according to the report. In 2002, about 42 percent of youth ages 18 to 25 had participated in organized sports during high school. Free. 10 pages. (301) 405-2790, www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/FactSheets/FS_06_Sports_and_Civic_Engagement.pdf.
When the Gates Open: Ready4Work
Public/Private Ventures (P/PV)
Since 2003, the national Ready4Work demonstration initiative – administered by the nonprofit P/PV – has provided mentoring, case management, education services, employment assistance and job training to 300 juvenile offenders leaving detention and re-entering their communities. The program has also served nearly 3,000 adult former inmates.
This report describes the program in depth, examines the effectiveness of its partnerships, profiles emerging success stories and assesses promising practices. Ready4Work’s three-year, $27 million funding comes from the U.S. departments of Labor and Justice, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Free. 37 pages. (215) 557-4400, www.ppv.org/ppv/publications/assets/189_publication.pdf.
The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living
Girl Scouts of the USA
The Girl Scout Research Institute combined results from focus groups and online surveys with more than 2,000 8- to 17-year-old girls to conclude that today’s girls are “defining ‘health’ on their own terms.”
Among the findings: Sixty-five percent of girls said their lifestyles are “healthy enough for my age,” and nearly 90 percent of 11- to 17-year-olds said feeling good about themselves is more important than how they look.
Despite being able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of healthy behaviors, however, more than 60 percent of the girls reported skipping breakfast at least once a week, and 40 percent of those ages 11 to 17 said they don’t play sports because they don’t feel skilled or competent enough. The 116-page report costs $19.55, while the 36-page executive summary is free online. (800) 811-9342, www.girlscouts.org/research/publications/original/gs_exec_summary.pdf.
How the Justice System Responds to Juvenile Victims: A Comprehensive Model
U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Part of a series intended to improve America’s efforts to serve child crime victims, this bulletin looks at how systems work for victimized youth. It reviews and graphically exhibits each step in the case-flow process of both the child protection and criminal justice systems, and describes interactions between the agencies and individuals involved.
According to the study, arrests are made in a minority of cases involving juvenile victims. When an arrest is made, the proportion accepted for prosecution varies from 50 percent to 75 percent, and cases tend to be dropped because of concerns about evidence and children’s ability to testify. Of the cases carried forward, 80 percent end with guilty pleas. Free. 12 pages. (202) 307–5911, www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/210951.pdf.
School Mental Health Services in the United States, 2002-2003
U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Twenty percent of a nationally representative sample of approximately 83,000 public schools received some type of school-supported mental health services during the 2002-03 academic year, according this national survey. Nearly three-quarters of the schools, which covered kindergarten through 12th grade, reported that “social, interpersonal or family problems” were the most frequently cited problems. Boys were more likely than girls to be seen for aggression, disruptive behavior and behavior problems associated with neurological disorders, while girls were more likely to be seen for anxiety and adjustment issues.
The most common types of school mental health providers were school counselors, followed by nurses, school psychologists and social workers. Among school districts survyed, 49 percent relied on contracts with community-based agencies for mental health services. One-third of the districts reported that the availability of those services had declined in the previous year. Free. 163 pages. (800) 789-2647, www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/media/ken/pdf/SMA05-4068/SMA05-4068.pdf.
Getting a Piece of the Pie: Federal Grants to Faith-Based Social Service Organizations
Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy
This study of more than 28,000 social service grants made by nine federal agencies between 2002 and 2004 shows that faith-based organizations (FBOs) received more than 17 percent of the funding and nearly 13 percent of the 3,526 grants during that period. But while the number of grants grew slightly, the total dollar amount declined, from about $670 million in 2002 to $626 million in 2004. The Department of Labor’s share of all funding awarded to FBOs jumped from less than 1 percent in 2002 to nearly 30 percent in 2004.
National FBOs saw their share of federal grant funding increase from 34.5 percent to 41.7 percent, and international groups saw an increase from 9 percent to 12 percent. By contrast, local and regional groups saw their share of funding decrease from 41.2 percent to 33.8 percent and congregation-based providers’ share dropped from 10.7 percent to 8.8 percent. Free. 52 pages. (518) 443-5774, www.religionandsocialpolicy.org/docs/research/federal_grants_report_2-14-06.pdf.
Business Planning for Nonprofits: What It Is and Why It Matters
The Bridgespan Group
After helping more than 80 nonprofit organizations develop business plans over the past six years, Bridgespan notes that the process typically includes four distinct components:
• Strategic clarity: developing a concrete description of the organization’s intended impact and theory of change.
• Strategic priorities: determining what specific actions and activities must take place to achieve the intended impact.
• Resource implications: understanding the financial, human and organizational resources needed to pursue these priorities and mapping out a plan to secure them.
• Performance measures: establishing quantitative and qualitative milestones to measure progress toward the intended impact.
This article uses case studies to illustrate each of the four components and includes a list of questions to helps readers determine the readiness of their organizations to develop business plans. Free. 27 pages. (617) 572-2833, www.bridgespan.org/PDF/BusinessPlanningforNonprofits.pdf.
Focus on Families! How to Build and Support Family-Centered Practices in After School
Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP), et al.
Children can benefit greatly from parental involvement in their after-school activities, according to this joint report by HFRP, Build the Out-of-School Time Network (BOSTnet) and United Way of Massachusetts Bay. The publication is the product of a partnership between the Engaging Families Initiative, funded by the Wallace Foundation, and HRFP’s “complementary learning” approach, which is based on the idea that children thrive in a variety of learning contexts that extend far beyond the classroom.
After presenting research on the benefits and challenges of engaging families in after-school programs, the guide shares engagement strategies, best practices and an evaluation tool to help program planners and leaders design and implement family engagement components in their programs. Free. 51 pages. (617) 495-9108, www.gse.harvard.edu/hfrp/projects/afterschool/resources/families.
Bridging the Gap: A Guide to Drug Treatment in the Juvenile Justice System
Despite great need, drug treatment remains scarce for adolescent offenders in the United States, serving fewer that 3 percent of arrested juveniles who have substance abuse problems, according to this report. The publication discusses an expert panel’s identification of 11 critical elements that contribute to the effective treatment of juveniles, including assessment and treatment matching, qualified staff, family involvement in treatment and continuing care. It also highlights useful strategies and national best practices that illustrate each of the 11 elements.
Drug Strategies is a nonprofit research organization that promotes effective approaches to drug problems. Literature review is available free online. 48 pages. (202) 289-9070, www.drugstrategies.org/LitReview-Bib.doc.