CFK Weekly: June 12, 2006
Editor’s Note: Congressional moderates (with urging from advocates and concerned adults) managed to beat back a repeal of the estate tax and save some programs in the labor-HHS-education bill – but some job training, health, education programs didn’t make it, and public broadcasting is under fire. At the same time, communities and the child welfare system are struggling with the impact of a growing Methamphetamine crisis. And is the democratic Internet – where voices of bloggers and corporate tycoons are suddenly equal – threatened? Our weekly round-up of resources gets down to it.
Using the Arts to Tame
Katrina’s Emotional Force
Building kites, drawing, creating an on-line community – these are some of the ways that young survivors of Hurricane Katrina are expressing themselves as part of their healing process. Martha Pitts reports on art therapy programs that are helping kids rebound.
Scouting Out School Wellness: Part II
Thanks to new legislation, schools across the country have to roll out comprehensive new wellness policies before the start of the next school year. It’s an issue that the Girl Scouts of America has been focusing on, so Connect for Kids decided to find out what Girl Scouts across the country have to say about staying healthy and how schools can help. Leah from Chicago and Sara from Camden County, N.J. offer their insights in prepared by Emerson Hunger Fellow Roshin Mathew.
NYDIC Wants You…
…to weigh in on the effectiveness of its Web site. The National Youth Development Information Center is asking adults (not necessarily in the youth development field) to answer a very short survey about “what is most useful and what needs to be improved” to make the website as effective as possible for the youth development field.
Survey: Connecting With Kids
KidsHealth wants to hear about how you connect with the children in your life, what challenges you've faced, and what successes you've had — you can weigh in on this e-survey.
Lehrer NewsHour Takes on Dropout Data Tonight (June 12)
Connect for Kids’ Jan Richter says, “Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute and Jay Greene of the Manhattan Institute will be talking about the dropout crisis tonight.” Check out Jan’s blog in Action Central.
Write to the NewsHour
Not Just Talk: Incorporating Youth Voice into Juvenile Justice Reform and Practice (June 21)
Many times adult advocates for youth say it is critical to have young people "at the decision-making table" when it comes to developing youth policies and programs. Tina Chiu, senior program associate at the Vera Institute of Justice, will be presenting her findings in her forthcoming paper, "Not Just Talk: Incorporating Youth Voice into Juvenile Justice Reform and Practice" during a conference call at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, June 21. The call's panel will also include Steve Eiseman, deputy chief probation officer at the Juvenile Court of Cook County, and a youth representative from the Juvenile Advisory Council of the Cook County Juvenile Probation Department. Jan Richter, advocacy director at Connect for Kids, will be moderating.
To sign up for this conference call, email Jan (email@example.com).
Ending Child Poverty: The United Kingdom’s Commitment, the United States’ Challenge (June 15)
The UK Commitment to end child poverty has included establishing and increasing a national minimum wage, expanding tax-based assistance to families, and initiating a 10-year national child care strategy. This meeting will examine this pledge, what’s happened so far, and what the United States can learn from these efforts at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC (1333 H St, NW), 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Free and open to the public; please RSVP. Call 202-741-6246 for more information.
CLASP Audio Conference -- The Commitment to End Child Poverty: Developments in the United Kingdom and the United States (online starting June 16)
The United Kingdom has an ambitious government plan to end child poverty by 2020. In the United States, Senator Kennedy (D-MA) has introduced a measure to cut child poverty in half; some localities are looking at government child poverty initiatives and targets may be included. This Center for Law and Social Policy audio file focuses on the politics behind the UK initiative and expectations for the future, what’s been accomplished to date, info from officials in the U.S. contemplating or implementing government child poverty initiatives across the country
Online Broadcast: Preventing Sexual Abuse of Youth in Custody (June 28)
On June 28, 2006, at 12:00 p.m. ET, the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Corrections (NIC) will air “Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children and Youth in Custody.” The 3-hour satellite/internet broadcast will introduce administrators, managers, advocates, and practitioners to working with juvenile offenders and to the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. Registration deadline: June 26.
Funds for Programs Serving At-Risk Youth (June 30)
The Louis R. Capelli Foundation supports programs that assist at-risk youth in reaching their full potential. Organizations with a 501(c)(3) status are eligible. Grant-funding ranges from $5,000 up to $25,000. Deadline is June 30, 2006.
Other funding alerts are posted in Action Central.
Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Indian Health Care Improvement Act of 2006
On June 8, the Senate Finance Committee approved this bill clarifying the way in which Indian health providers are reimbursed by the feds and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program for services provided on or near reservations or at urban Indian organizations.
Estate Tax Repeal Effort Meets its Death
Two things remain certain, as they say. Last week marked a victory for the many advocates and others who contacted their Senators and urged them to oppose an effort to repeal the estate tax on inherited wealth – which would result in a significant decrease in federal revenue and potentially lead to harmful cuts to programs for kids, families, and communities. The Senate fell three votes short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster. The Coalition on Human Needs says all Democrats except Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Baucus (MT), and Lincoln (AK) voted against the motion. All Republicans except Chafee (RI) and Voinovich (OH) voted for the motion to proceed. Independent Jeffords (VT) vote against. Rockefeller (D-WV) and Schumer (D-NY) were not present.
United for a Fair Economy also offers a comprehensive roster of Senate votes .
CHN cautions that there are still proposals in the works that -- although they fall short of full repeal -- could cost as much revenue as the 10-year $1 trillion cost of fully repealing the estate tax. CBPP has the scoop on these proposals, including a “compromise” proposed by Senator Kyl (R-AZ) that many advocates say looks an awful lot like repeal.
Money Matters: Labor-HHS Bill Moves in House
The Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS)-Education Appropriations bill sets federal spending for numerous programs for families and communities – including Medicaid, child care, child welfare, education, job training, health, and mental health spending. On June 7, the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved its fiscal year 2007 bill at $142 billion, almost $1 billion more than current spending and over $4 billion more than President Bush proposed. The full House Appropriations Committee is likely to vote on the bill this week. Some key provisions include the following:
• “Saved”: The subcommittee rejected Administration proposals to cut $500 million from the Social Services Block Grant (and instead funded the program at current levels) and to eliminate the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) — however, the CSBG Job Opportunities for Low-Income Individuals program was eliminated. The Child Care and Development Fund held at fiscal year 2006 levels.
• “Shortchanged”: Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and the committee Democrats released a statement outlining how the bill shortchanges labor, health and education, and cuts social programs by $11 billion compared to two years ago, when adjusted for inflation and population growth.
• “Failing Education”: When it comes to education, the bill risks a failing grade. National Education Association (NEA) reports that the bill cuts No Child Left Behind programs by $500 million; freezes money for Title I, special education, and Head Start; and eliminates dropout prevention and education technology grants. The bill also cuts safe and drug-free school grants by 10 percent. The NEA urges concerned adults to contact members of Congress before the bill goes to the House Appropriations Committee next week.
• Health: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the bill maintains the NIH budget at 2006 levels (a 3.7 percent decrease in real, inflation-adjusted terms) and increases funds for community health centers and immunizations for children in fiscal year 2007.
• Public broadcasting: Public radio and television — including NPR and PBS — stand to lose 21.5 percent of their funding next year if the bill passes the House in this form. The spending bill includes $115 million cuts to Corporation for Public Broadcasting, including all the money for the Ready To Learn and Ready to Teach programs. The Benton Foundation has coverage (scroll to “House Committee Cuts CPB Funding”). CPB has responded in a press release.
In the early days of the Internet and the World Wide Web, visionaries raved about its potential to bring a small-town citizen into the halls of Congress without ever leaving home, and making it easier for the “little guy” to be heard. And it worked. Anyone can post content to the Internet and make it as accessible as Amazon.com , which has given rise to a slew of blogs, chats, and locally created content. Is that about to change?
Here are a few resources on “net neutrality” — what it means and whether it’s worth getting concerned about.
Net Neutrality: What is it and What is at Stake?
According to a May 2, 2006 New York Times editorial, “cable and telephone companies that provide Internet service are talking about creating a two-tiered Internet, in which Web sites that pay them large fees would get priority over everything else.” Users wouldn’t pay, but sites would pay fees to Internet providers – and those that don’t or can’t afford to might see their sites blocked, or sent over slower connections (limiting the transmission of documents, video and audio files, etc.) . Under a “net neutrality” rule, all Web sites would have to be treated equally – meaning a blogger’s page would have to be as accessible as a corporate homepage. At the end of April, the House Energy and Commerce Committee rejected a net-neutrality amendment. A non-partisan coalition of organizations has launched the Save the Internet Campaign.
Net Neutrality in Congress
The House voted on the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act but did not pass a net neutrality provision – but the rules are not dead in the water, as a telecom measure does give the Federal Communications Commission the right to enforce net-neutrality rules, according to the Benton Foundation. Benton’s clear coverage of the House bills affecting Net neutrality rules can be found here:
Advocates are now targeting the Senate, where legislation may be up for votes in the coming weeks. On May 19, Senators Snowe (R-ME) and Dorgan (D-ND) introduced the "Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2006." The text is online.
First-Aid Instruction Sheets
Just in time for summer adventure, KidsHealth has first-aid instruction sheets for common childhood emergencies and situations.
Improving Children’s Health: Understanding Children’s Health Disparities and Promising Approaches to Address Them
Despite work to close gaps, there remain racial and ethnic disparities in access to health care services and insurance coverage among Latino, Black, and White children. For example, Latino kids are more than three times as likely and Black children are almost 50 percent more likely than White children to be uninsured. This Children’s Defense Fund study examines the gaps and what’s working to narrow them.
Promising approaches include the following: creating health partnerships with schools, churches and other community centers; using community health care workers; using mobile programs; focusing on increasing preventative care; and strengthening policies. This study controls for income and insurance coverage in its assessment of racial and ethnic disparities.
Growing Up in the Age of AIDS
What’s it like to be among the first generations growing up aware of AIDS? An MTV documentary, “THINK HIV,” will premiere on August 18; at the same time, the Kaiser Family Network and MTV will launch an interactive online community for young people to share their personal stories about HIV/AIDS through videos, blogs, and other media. The site will also include info and resources.
Kaiser has updated its 2006 Survey of Americans on HIV/AIDS, which looks at public opinion on HIV testing and the opinions and experiences of 18 to 25 year olds.
State-by-state data on HIV Testing is available on statehealthfacts.org.
Meth and Child Welfare: Promising Solutions for Children, Parents, and Grandparents
Figures in a new report by a coalition of child advocacy groups suggest that the number of children removed from their homes because of methamphetamine abuse is rising, bringing with them a variety of problems straining families and child welfare system. This booklet from Generations United looks at both the need for permanent care for kids whose parents cannot care for them because of addiction, and what can work to help keep families together when parents are successfully recovering. Among the reforms to the child welfare system (to make it better able to aid kids and families in the face of a growing meth problem) are the following: establishing and expanding targeted services and support networks for grandfamilies and adoptive families; better training child welfare workers; and broadening the use of family drug court model programs.
Last week, Stateline.org reported that methamphetamine abuse is “sapping the resources of state welfare agencies, especially in rural areas, as social workers struggle with the twin problems of helping addicts find treatment and their children find new homes.”
Meth Resources from NCJRS
The latest Justice Resource Update (Winter 2006) from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service includes information on fighting meth – including the MethResources Web site, an overview of Wyoming’s Methamphetamine Initiative, and more.
New Meth Funds on the Move in Senate
On June 8, the Senate Finance Committee marked up its Improving Outcomes for Children Affected by Meth Act of 2006; in the process, it reauthorized the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program through fiscal year 2011 and added provisions authorizing the Health and Human Services Department to fund regional partnerships that serve children who are in foster care or are at risk of removal because of methamphetamine.
Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality
Poor and minority children often underachieve in school because they academically behind, and also because they do not get their fair share of quality teachers.
High-poverty and minority schools are more likely to get new or novice, uncertified, or out-of-field training teachers. This new Education Trust study looks at the overall U.S. picture, and analyzes schools and districts in Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin and finds that teacher distribution has a big impact on student achievement – in the highest poverty schools with high Teacher Quality measurements, there were about twice as many students meeting state standards as in similar schools with poor teacher quality. The report offers lessons and specific action steps for states, and recommends ways that the federal Title I education law — which funds services in high poverty schools — could be adapted to directly help.
By July 7, the report says, states must submit to the Ed Department their first-ever “equity plans ” for ensuring that low-income and minority students are not disproportionately disadvantaged when it comes to teacher quality.
The Costs of Out-of-School-Time Programs: A Review of the Available Evidence
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. families are now headed by two working parents or a single working parent, which means many parents rely on out-of-school time programs for school-age kids. But what does the typical program cost, and how does expense relate to spending? As this report from Public-Private Ventures and the Finance Project finds, there’s a wide cost variation across programs — from $449 to $7,160 per child per year. But without standard methodologies for estimating program costs, there’s little up-to-date information. The report reviews existing research and literature and concludes with a look at how the early care and education fields can act as a roadmap for examining costs and benefits of after- and out-of-school programs.
A Guide to Calculating the Cost of Quality Early Care and Education
This Finance Project brief lays out a step-by-step process for accurate estimates of the cost of high-quality early care and education systems. A case study example highlights how one locality used this process to generate cost estimates.
An Earlier Start: Pre-K Through 3
In this Education Week article, reporter Linda Jacobson looks at the rise in the number of elementary schools starting or expanding their pre-K-3 programs, and how they interact with other grades. (Free registration required.)
Rural Families Choose Home-Based Child Care for their Preschool-Aged Children
Although the benefits of formal, center-based child care are well documented, many parents rely on informal settings in the homes of relatives, friends, or neighbors. This Carsey Institute brief focuses on rural families – and finds that most rely on informal care, which costs less than formal care. The report recommends making formal care more affordable and accessible in rural areas, or training home-based caregivers to ensure that the care they provide is high-quality.
A Brother’s War
For some, the war in Iraq has faded into the background. But for the family members and loved ones of soldiers being deployed, the war is still very real, as this De-Bug article by David Madrid makes clear.
Keep up the good work everyone!
Caitlin Johnson, senior writer, and the Connect for Kids team.