CFK Weekly September 26

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

September 26, 2007

In This Issue

Education News
Children's Health Care Coverage
Who's Doing What That Works
The Future of Children and Poverty
Early Childhood and Learning
Neighborhoods Supporting Kids
Funds for Action
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Editor's Note
Well, it's another packed Weekly! This week, we've got a round-up of reactions and responses to the Nation's Report Card reading and math test results; a look at different takes on the DREAM Act that would give undocumented high school grads who were brought to the U.S. as kids a path to citizenship; and an update to help you make sense of what's happening with the federal State Children's Health Insurance Program, set to expire on Sunday.

This week's Who's Doing What That Works, from our partner Child Advocacy 360, looks at Treehouse, an innovative program to create supportive "villages" for children in foster care.

The latest Future of Children looks at how we can win the fight against poverty. Also this week, there are promising evidence-based practices for healthy early childhood development.  In addition, since childhood obesity tripled in just two decades and is poised to become a major health and budgetary issue, several groups have released resources for parents, professionals and our next president.

Finally, check out the best cities for kids, and find some ideas to fund your work!

Keep working for kids, everyone.
Caitlin Johnson

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Education News

NEAPThe Nation's Report Card
The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and math test scores are in and they're making headlines -- although whether there's any real news depends on who you ask. The Department of Education is trumpeting gains in math among fourth and eighth graders, while other groups note that those gains are smaller than past years and that reading scores for all students except Asian Americans have been flat since 2002 (and since 1998 for eighth graders). The biggest gains in reading are among black fourth graders, yet the racial achievement gap persists.

Additional Resources:

  • Tested: One American School Struggles To Make the Grade (Author Web chat). Reporter Linda Perlstein's new book, Tested: One American School Struggles To Make the Grade, examines how the testing affects life in Tyler Heights Elementary School in Annapolis, Maryland. On September 20, she and teacher Mandi Rounds joined an Education Week Web chat; the  transcript is online.

DREAM Act Moves in Congress
The bipartisan DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act has been added to the Defense appropriations bill, which the Senate is expected to vote on this week. The DREAM Act gives undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children a six-year path to citizenship if they graduate from high school and attend two years of college or military service. Only those who arrived under the age of 15 and have been in the country for at least five years as of the Act's passage qualify. The Act does not address tuition.

  • Proponents -- including the National Education Association (read the NEA statement) and the National Immigration Law Center (read the NILC recap) -- say the DREAM Act will help talented young adults who have grown up in America and who should not be deported.

Children's Health Care Coverage

domeSCHIP Hangs in the Balance, Despite Bipartisan Bill
Will the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) be reauthorized before it expires on September 30, or will Congress pass an extension? A House-Senate compromise bill would raise the tobacco tax by 61 cents per pack to add $35 billion in funds for SCHIP over the next five years, allowing the program to reach more uninsured children. The House passed the bill on September 24 and it is expected to pass in the Senate this week. President Bush says he will veto the bill over concerns that it goes too far in creating socialized health care. The Senate likely has enough votes to override a veto, but the House may not.

More SCHIP Resources:

  • Fact Check: President Bush on SCHIP. President Bush has raised concerns that the SCHIP bill would cover kids in families earning up to $83,000 a year. Is that true? Not exactly, says this Annenberg Political Fact Check of the president's "mischaracterizations" of the program. (Annenberg)
  • Republican Voters on SCHIP - Poll. A new First Focus poll undertaken by a Republican polling firm found that "by a 2 to 1 margin, a majority of Republicans favor renewing and providing additional resources for the State Children's Health Program." The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
  • Take Action: The National Women's Law Center has an action alert for citizens to weigh in with Congress.

Other Health News: Obesity

pdfChildhood Obesity: Harnessing the Power of Public and Private PartnershipsNIHCM
In just 20 years, the number of children and teens who are overweight or obese has tripled in the U.S. due largely to complex changes in children's social and physical environments. A new report from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation examines obesity prevention collaborations between state health agencies and health plans in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, and a different type of collaboration in North Carolina. It examines the successes, challenges and lessons learned.

The Obesity Challenge: What the Next President Must Do
What does the rising obesity problem mean for our country's budget, health and health policy? If you missed this September 19 conference, fear not: you can get the video and transcripts from each section, including the Republican and Democratic presidential advisors roundtables. It was sponsored by the Obesity Society, Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and the National Journal.

walk to schoolHit the Bricks: Walk to School on October 3!
Join other children, parents, principals, community leaders and public health advocates in walking to school on October 3 to help fight obesity, improve the environment and advocate for safer routes to school. There are lots of educational materials online.

Who's Doing What That Works
CA360The Weekly is now the exclusive carrier of Child Advocacy 360's signature content. Each week, this section highlights the work and perspectives of leaders in the child and youth field. To submit ideas for consideration, email

Treehouse: Creating a Village to Foster a Child
It begins with a caring and generous act: two years ago, psychotherapist Wendy Gannett reached out to an abused 7-year-old boy named Alex in Northampton, Massachusetts. She thought she was well equipped to adopt children from the foster system.

The rest of the journey that brought Wendy, Alex and two siblings to Treehouse -- a planned intergenerational community in Easthampton, Massachusetts -- is thoughtfully related in an August 17 New York Times article by Pam Belluck, who wrote that Treehouse is based on the idea "that a close-knit support network can prevent children from bouncing from one foster home to another, and give them tools to succeed."

Pioneered in 1994 by Hope Meadows at a former military base in Rantoul, Illinois, the Treehouse initiative appears to be catching on. Hope Meadows plans to replicate it in about 18 states, with the help of $7.7 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

  • Read about the Hope Meadows story in the Alumni Bulletin of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Future of Children and Poverty

The Next Generation of Antipoverty Policiesfuture of children
Reducing poverty is by no means an impossible task, according the latest issue of the Princeton/Brookings Future of Children. The authors say strategies should use a combination of work requirements and social welfare policies. They stress four short-term policies: supplementing the earnings of low-wage workers, strengthening work incentives for fathers, providing good child care and ensuring health care for children and families. They also propose four long-term aims: reducing non-marital births, increasing preschool, improving public education and providing support to chronically poor mothers.

NCCPNCCP: Too Many Kids in Low Income Families
The National Center for Children in Poverty's latest demographic data, based on Census data released last month, reveal that 39 percent of children in the United States live in low-income families -- a level that remains unchanged from the previous year. Check out the updated fact sheets, state profiles and trend book.

Early Childhood and Learning

Child Care and Early Education: New Site from CLASP
Wondering how the No Child Left Behind reauthorization affects early learning? Want the latest child care subsidy data? This new Center for Law and Social Policy Web site section has state data, tools and information about key issues, as well as updates on federal legislation and news.

School Readiness: Implementation Study of the Comprehensive Services Program of Palm Beach County, Floridachapin hall
To improve the school readiness of low-income children, Palm Beach County, Florida, launched a program to identify children's needs and provide early intervention services to support physical, cognitive, and emotional health and development. This Chapin Hall report examines challenges, lessons learned and impact.

Local Systems Development for Early Childhood: A Look at 10 States
Some 38 states are working to build their Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems, which are designed to improve outcomes for children and families and ensure that all young children are healthy and ready for school. This "short take" from the National Center for Children in Poverty's Project Thrive looks at what 10 states are doing and offers ideas for local systems.

NFEEUsing Evidence to Improve Outcomes in Learning, Behavior and Health for Vulnerable Children
Here's a framework for using evidence to improve outcomes in learning, behavior and health for vulnerable children. Authored by the National Forum on Early Childhood Program Evaluation and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, it draws on neuroscience, behavioral and developmental science, economics, and decades of early childhood research to guide better policies and practice.

Neighborhoods Supporting Kids

child trendsMost Supportive Neighborhoods for Children
When it comes to parents' perceptions of support from neighbors, the Midwest and Northeast top the list, according to this new Child Trends brief examining the connection between neighborhoods and child well-being. See where your area ranks in the Neighborhood Support Index.

CVWF logoAmerica's Promise 100 Best Communities for Young People 2008
Is your community one of the best for kids? This annual competition ranks the top 100 outstanding communities across America that are the best places for young people to live and grow up. All applicants are eligible to apply for a total of $300,000 in grants from the America's Promise Alliance. Deadline: November 2.

kaboomKaBOOM! Playful City USA
This year, KaBOOM! asked cities to make a commitment to play. Cities that made the grade in playfulness will be honored on November 16th at the National League of Cities convention in New Orleans. How does your city rate? 

funding alertsFunds for Action

Fostering Healthy Connections through Peer Mentoring
The Child Welfare League is inviting its member agencies to submit proposals to support four new peer mentoring programs and enhance four existing programs. A committee of field experts and former foster youth will review the proposals. Deadline: October 12.

Grants for Cross-Cultural Projects
The Intercultural Harmony Program of the Laura Jane Musser Fund supports projects that promote understanding and cooperation between groups and citizens. Projects can be carried out in the arts, community service and youth activities. Deadline: October 10.

Grants for Research on Education and/or Welfare of Children
The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) invites proposals for original research and writing on the organization's policies concerning the education and/or welfare of children in the United States. Topics may cover a range of policy issues, and two fellowships of $5,000 will be awarded.  Deadline: November 16.

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