CFK Weekly January 31, 2007

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Bringing you the most up-to-date and relevant news, research and policy
developments affecting children, youth and families.


January 31, 2007


In This Issue
Reconnecting Youth
Family Poverty and Homelessness
Minimum Wage and Families
Spotlight on Young Children
Tax Help for Working Families
After-School Time Resources
Education News
Renewing No Child Left Behind
News from the Field
Funds for Community Projects



Featured Action
CCFY logo




An estimated 1 to 2 million youth are homeless each year. Youth who "age out" of the child
welfare system each year are
especially at risk, as are those who run
away or are kicked out of their homes (and don't qualify for child
welfare supports). This Urban Institute Thursday's Child forum will examine policies
and programs to reduce youth homelessness. If you'll be in
Washington, DC, on Thursday, February 8, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., you're
invited.


Not in DC? The audio file will be available

online afterward.



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Next Week: Self-Esteem Month and More

February is National Self-Esteem Month. Next issue, we'll being your resources on girls and self-esteem, and bullying -- as well as the latest on Congress' fiscal year 2007 funding increases for Pell grants, the Section 8 Housing program, and other social services, and much  more. See you next week!



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Editor's Note                 

By now, we have heard the staggering statistics: only 70 percent of U.S. ninth graders will graduate four years later, and the number drops as low as 50 percent in some urban areas. For youth in the child welfare system, turning 21 can bring instant homelessness -- as abrupt as a handshake, metro card, and a "good luck to you," as one young man wrote in a Foster Teen magazine article, below. Too many young people are "disconnected" from school and work.

But some communities are making great strides in improving the safety of and opportunities for young people in their neighborhoods, schools, and families -- check the list of winners of the America's Promise "100 Best Communities for Young People." Listening to the first-hand accounts and recommendations of disconnected youth themselves is an important first step.

Reinventing job training, increasing the minimum wage, rethinking the length of the school day and summer breaks, and even just letting children be children -- at play --  can also improve outcomes for families and young people. For more resources, tools, and information, read on. There are a lot of items this week. Keep sharing your work with us!


Caitlin Johnson
weekly@connectforkids.org

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Reconnecting Youth

The 100 Best Communities for Young People
Did your hometown make the America's Promise Alliance list of the best places for young people?  Communities were recognized for: innovative examples of support for children and youth; resources for children that benefit the Five Promises; and youth outcomes such as graduation rates, physical and mental health, and civic engagement. The best communities also showed evidence of building and sustaining cross-sector partnerships, raising awareness of young people's needs, making use of data, and motivating action on behalf of youth. 

Success After Foster Care: In Their Own Words
For some young people, turning 21 (or in some states 18) means an abrupt end to foster care or residential treatment. So what do they do next? The latest issue of Youth Communication's Foster Teen magazine features youth-written accounts of "aging out," and what can help make the transition to adulthood less jarring. A separate series focuses on overcoming sexual abuse.

Also on aging-out: "For Former Foster Care Youths, Help to Make It on Own" (New York Times, January 27; free registration required.)

Listening to the Voices and Aspirations of Disconnected Youth
We profiled this report in the January 17 CFK Weekly -- a must-read review of focus groups in five cities, in which young people discussed disconnection and what works to re-engage them.
 
Latino Male High School/College Achievement Program: Call for Best Practices
The Latino Male High School/College Achievement Program at Arizona State University's Center for Community Development and Civil Rights is identifying and cataloging best practices relating to the retention and recovery of at-risk Latino male high school students. They invite anyone working with at-risk students or parenting teens, intervention, retention and prevention programs to weigh in with ideas and information. Contact Robert Soza to coordinate your participation or to refer an expert practitioner.
  CCFY logo
Federal Youth Court Program Training (February 25-28)
Register now for this conference, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The training is divided into two tracks to help jurisdictions develop and implement effective youth court programs and to give those with programs underway advanced training on youth court and related topics.


Family Poverty and Homelessness

Two Steps Back: City and Suburban Poverty Trends 1999-2005
By 2005, for the first time, the suburban poor outnumbered their city counterparts by at least 1 million, according to this December Brookings Institute analysis of Census data.

Rethinking Social Services in the Des Moines Suburbs
How are suburban governments dealing with the new reality that poverty and homelessness are increasingly a suburban issue? This January 30 National Public Radio segment looks at an effort to revamp social services outside Des Moines, Iowa.

Homelessness Mounting Among Kids, Families
This NewStandard article says children and families are the fastest growing segments of the homeless population-the result of poverty and a scarcity of affordable housing.

National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference (February 25-27)Date
This Washington, DC, conference will cover the latest on the Food Stamp program, state innovations to reduce poverty, the budget landscape, a "hunger policy 101," school breakfast expansion, and more. It is sponsored by the Food Research & Action Center and America's Second Harvest.


Minimum Wage and Families

The Senate may take up the minimum wage again today, after several days of debate over amendments that attach tax breaks for small businesses. The House passed a bill to gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 by 2009.

PDFRural Families Would Benefit from a Higher Minimum Wage
Of the 10 million workers who earn less than $7.25 an hour, nearly 2 million live in rural areas. This two-page Carsey Institute brief looks at how an increase in the federal minimum wage would help rural working families as much or more than urban workers, since research suggests that "low-income families in small towns and isolated counties would benefit disproportionately from an increase in the minimum wage."

pdfStrategies to Build Assets Among Low-Income Families
Getting ahead requires assets, an advantage that many low-income families lack. The Finance Project recommends six strategies that widen opportunities for low-income families to build and protect their savings and investments.

pdfBrandeis University's Institute on Assets and Social Policy has a four-page chart tracking state asset building initiatives and policies, their goals, and accomplishments. 


Spotlight on Young Children

Para Nuestros Niños: A Demographic Portrait of Young Hispanic Children in the United States
More than 20 percent of U.S. children ages 0-8 are Hispanic. Although many are from immigrant families, nearly 90 percent are citizens. They are more likely than non-Hispanic white children to live in low-income households. This 11-page brief from the National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics has more.

Playtime Benefits Children's Development
While schools and child care programs increasingly focus on learning activities, a new study in the medical journal, The Lancet, offers a reminder that stimulating play brings significant mental development benefits, even to children who are malnourished or living in poverty.



Tax Help for Working Families

pdfEITC Outreach Toolkit for Child Care and Afterschool Providers
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other tax benefits go a long way to lifting working families out of poverty. The National Women's Law Center is collaborating with state child care advocates to inform millions of families about the tax credits they're eligible for. February 1 is EITC Awareness Day.

For more information on the EITC, check out the National EITC Outreach Partnership.



After-School Time Resources

State Funding Round-Up and Petition from Afterschool for All: Project 2010
States across the country are increasing funding for after-school programs. The Afterschool Alliance is tracking states' efforts and collecting the names of all Americans who believe that young people deserve a safe place to learn after school. The tally is 6,000 and counting.

New from the Afterschool Investments Project
Afterschool programs not only boost academics, but also help prevent and reduce childhood obesity. The federal Child Care Bureau, in partnership with the Finance Project and the National Governor's Association Center for Best Practices, has added the following resources to its site:


Education News

pdfStructuring School Districts to Address Barriers to Learning and Teaching
This report, the first in a series from the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools, looks at how school district infrastructure issues can worsen marginalization, fragmentation, redundancy, and counter-productive competition that sometimes characterize efforts to provide learning supports. It also offers a prototype of learning supports to spark discussion in the field. Feedback is requested.

Online Chat -- Time and Learning: How Schools Can Do Better (January 31)CCFY logo
Today, from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern, you're invited to take part in an Education Week chat about the recent Time, Learning, and Afterschool Task Force report that found community partnerships, extended school days, student internships, and better after-school programs could improve the use of time for learning. Submit questions online.

Background on related reports is available in the January 24 Education Week article, "Panel Favors Extended View of Learning" (Free registration required).

Studies Find Benefits to Advanced Placement Courses
A forthcoming Texas study -- the largest ever of the impact of AP on college success -- finds that rigorous Advanced Placement courses and exams can pay off in terms of "higher GPAs, credit hours, and four-year graduation rates,'" according to a scoop by the Washington Post. (Free registration required.) The study is not yet published, but its authors will alert CFK Weekly readers as soon as it is.

A 2006 study by researchers from Harvard and the University of Virginia found that AP classes have questionable impacts on performance in college-level science classes.



Renewing No Child Left Behind  

President Bush has called on Congress to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act this year, and groups around the country are calling for major changes to the law-including a shift from what many in the education field see as a "punitive" emphasis to more fully funding efforts to measure and improve school achievement. Here are some resources:

  • Voices from the Classroom, from the National Education Association, contains stories, accounts, and video discussions of the law.
  • More than 100 groups have signed the "Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB," calling for a shift from sanctions to support for states in making systemic changes to improve student achievement.
  • The newly formed Educator Roundtable has its own petition arguing that the law should not be renewed in its current form.



News from the Field

We want to hear from you. Send your feedback or content ideas to us at weekly@connectforkids.org.
 
Cincinnati Partnership Awarded $340,000 to Inspire Future Math Teachers
Dawn Fuller, a CFK Weekly subscriber from the University of Cincinnati, wrote to tell us about a new partnership to recruit and prepare math and science teachers from underrepresented groups. The grant, from the Ohio Board of Regents, will give high school juniors and seniors in several Cincinnati public schools a year-round program of internships, mentoring, and high school and college credit-designed to help them become math teachers.


Funds for Community Projects
CCFY logo
DC: Funds for Youth-Led Community Projects (February 9)
Capital One Financial Corporation and Youth Service America are
partnering to offer Washington, DC-area applicants up to $500 in grants
to support youth-led community service projects in low- or
moderate-income communities. Youth (ages 5-25), teachers, youth
leaders, youth-serving organizations, and organizations that engage
youth can submit proposals by February 9, 2007.

USDA Grants to Support Community Food Projects
The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers funds of approximately $4.6 million for the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program 2007. Applicants must submit a 750-word Letter of Intent by close of business on February 13, 2007.

For more funding resources and tools to get involved, visit Connect for Kids' Action Central.




Caitlin Johnson and Thaddeus Ferber
Connect for Kids and the Forum for Youth Investment