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The subprime mortgage crisis is big news -- but you don't hear much about the estimated 2 million children who are likely to be affected. As Congress takes up housing finance reform, First Focus and its partners are urging an amendment that addresses the needs of children made homeless by foreclosures and evictions.
Also on Capitol Hill, the Farm Bill is moving forward with improvements to the Food Stamp program. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act reauthorization. And early learning got a boost with the introduction of the Starting Early, Starting Right Act.
May is Foster Care Month -- and new data show a slight decrease in the number of children in foster care between 2005 and 2006. The Connect for Kids Web site has a Q&A to put this new data in context and to help you get a sense of where we are, where we're headed and what works when it comes to improving the lives of children and families in the child welfare system.
We've also got Karen Pittman's latest Youth Today column that explores why and how we must be not only passionate but precise about measuring outcomes for youth and communities.
We're collecting profiles of effective work -- please send us your stories of innovation, success and efforts to address challenges!
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|New on Connectforkids.org
A Changing Child Welfare System: a CFK Q&A
May is the 20th annual celebration of Foster Care Month! To put the latest facts in context and to get the lowdown on emerging trends, Connect for Kids spoke with Candice Douglass, communications director with Casey Family Programs. We also talked to Celeste Bodner, executive director of FosterClub. See the CFK Web site to find out what's new, what's working, and ways you can get involved.
by Karen Pittman
Changing the odds for young people requires both passion and precision: passion in our commitment to providing high-quality support to all youth, and precision in measuring how well we and they are doing. In this column, Karen Pittman says it's possible, affordable and essential that we develop ways to measure community-level outcomes to help leaders change the ways they do business.
|The Mortgage Crisis, Kids and Homelessness
Addressing the Impact of Foreclosure on Children: Report and Sign-on Letter
An estimated 2 million children will be directly impacted by the foreclosure crisis, according to a report by First Focus. These children are at increased risk for poor school performance and behavior and health problems.
On May 15, the Senate Banking Committee plans to take up The Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008. First Focus is working to have an amendment offered that focuses on children. The amendment would authorize an additional $30 million for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Program, which governs education policy for homeless children and helps them stay connected to their schools and education supports even when they move from their homes.
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act: Effective and Up for Renewal
- First focus is asking organizations to sign on to a letter requesting this amendment. To add your organization, contact Phillip Lovell by May 14, at 202-657-0670.
This Act supports local and state programs for homeless youth -- and in the last federally funded evaluation, its programs were found to reduce dropout rates, increase college attendance, boost employment rates, and reduce parental physical abuse. The Act expires on September 30, 2008 and must be renewed or extended by Congress before then.
The National Network for Youth held an April 29 briefing before the Senate Judiciary Committee that included first-hand stories from practitioners, youth and the star of Blood Diamond. You can watch a video of the hearing, get the latest status of the reauthorization bills, and find out about what works for homeless youth on the Network's site.
|Foster Care News
Latest Foster Care and Adoption Data Released
Just in time for Foster Care Month, the federal Children's Bureau offers the latest national statistics on adoption and foster care in its Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report. Among the findings:
- The number of children in foster care dropped from 513,300 in 2005 to 510,000 in 2006.
Youth with Disabilities in the Foster Care System: Barriers to Success and Proposed Policy Solutions
- During the same time period, there was a significant increase in the termination of parental rights for children in foster care.
At least one-third of children in foster care have physical or mental disabilities and are at higher risk for poor educational, employment and well-being outcomes. This new report by the National Council on Disability finds that federal investments are undercut by lack of coordination across programs and agencies. It offers recommendations for policymakers.
Recommendations for Policy, Practice, and Research on Youth Permanence
Casey Family Services has released a report from the research roundtable held during the last National Convening on Youth Permanence in 2006. The report offers an overview from national experts of how to document and understand youth permanence strategies for children in foster care. (See the left sidebar of the Casey site.)
|Hunger and Nutrition
Food Stamps No More: the Farm Bill and "SNAP"
We don't mean food stamps are disappearing, in fact, far from it: a five-year reauthorization of the Farm Bill up for vote in Congress would increase funds for food stamps, and the program would change its name to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The Bill includes several provisions that anti-hunger advocates praise as improvements: raising food stamp benefits and indexing them for inflation, increasing funding for emergency food, and boosting the availability of fruits and vegetable snacks in low-income schools. For Specifics, check out:
The Farm bill has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, but President Bush says he will veto it.
Food for America's Famished
This Christian Science Monitor article reports that the cost of food staples like bread is rising not only internationally but here at home. A recent CNN poll finds nearly 1 in 3 Americans are already cutting back on food. And food stamp enrollment is expected to reach a record 28 million people in the next few months.
Putting It All Together: Guiding Principles for Quality After-School Programs Serving Preteens
Successfully navigating early adolescence depends largely on access to safe and engaging activities and supportive relationships with adults. Public/Private Ventures offers this research and guidance on what works to create quality after-school programs and spark positive outcomes for young teens.
Current-Generation Youth Programs: What Works, What Doesn't, and at What Cost?
New from RAND, this report reviews the costs and benefits of out-of-school time programs for disadvantaged young people and finds -- not surprisingly -- that the evidence of effectiveness is strongest for programs that are costlier and provide more intensive services.
New Online Tool for City Leaders (Training May 21)
The Afterschool Policy Advisors Network, sponsored by the National League of Cities, has a new online tool with a searchable library of afterschool resources -- it's designed to help city leaders find, collect and share knowledge on how to build high-quality out-of-school time programs. You can register for a conference call training on May 21.
|Tools for Your Work
Building Leaderful Organizations: Succession Planning for Nonprofits
The development of leadership skills throughout an organization can strengthen capacity and ensure smooth succession planning. This publication, part of the Casey Foundation series on leadership, offers emergency succession planning tools and suggestions for boards to help ensure the sustainability of their organizations.
Bank of America Philanthropic Management Site
This new site offers detailed information about the grantmaking focus of about 70 foundations. The site is currently in an introductory phase; it plans to expand to more states and foundations.
Nonprofit Social Networking Symposium: Tapping Online Tools (June 14)
Presented by the ePhilanthropy Foundation, this one-day conference offers beginner and advanced-level training on using the most current social networking tools to build communities, raise money and succeed online. Held June 14 at Columbia University in New York City.
|Grants and Contests
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Local Funding Partnerships
This is a collaborative program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and local grantmakers designed to support community-based efforts to improve health care for vulnerable populations. The Partnership provides grants of $200,000 to $500,000 per project, which must be matched dollar for dollar by local grantmakers. Deadline: July 8. (Optional applicant phone call: May 20th.)
YouthActionNet Call for Fellowship Applications
International youth who are project leaders or organization founders ages 18 to 29 years old are invited to apply for this year-long fellowship program, which includes a week-long retreat in Washington, D.C. in November 2008 for skill-building, networking and advocacy training relevant to social entrepreneurs. Deadline: May 22.
Save Our History Grants
Every year, the History Channel awards grants of up to $10,000 to organizations across the country that partner with schools or youth groups on community preservation projects that engage students in learning about documenting and preserving the history of their communities. Museums, historic sites, libraries and others welcome. Deadline: June 6.
Drug Policy Alliance Advocacy Grants Program
This program supports policy change and reform at the state, local and national levels by funding smaller, geographically limited or single-issue organizations and projects. Deadline: June 16.
PSA Contest for Youth: Advertise Your Cause Media Challenge
Sponsored by the By Kids For Kids youth empowerment company and DoSomething.org, this competition will reward the cleverest and most powerful new Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign idea that will also have the broadest impact. Open to U.S. residents who are K-12 students. Deadline: June 30.
Caitlin Johnson and Thaddeus Ferber
Connect for Kids and the Forum for Youth Investment