Care and Connections: Bridging Relational Gaps for Foster Youths. Brookings Institution. Ramona Denby-Brinson, Efren Gomez, and Richard V. Reeves. September 14, 2017
In the United States, more than 20,000 youths “age out” of foster care each year. But leaving foster care presents its own challenges. Only 55 percent of former foster youths report having a high school diploma or GED by the time they’re 19, compared with 87 percent of their peers in the population sample.
Significant efforts are made by policymakers at all levels to improve educational, social and economic outcomes for this at-risk group, with mixed results.
One way to help improve the outcomes of foster youths may be to focus on relationship-building skills. Research suggests that healthy and supportive relationships improve life chances for foster youth. But so far there have been relatively few attempts to build insights into these programs and practice.
In “Care and connections: Bridging relational gaps for foster youths” (PDF), Ramona Denby-Brinson, Efren Gomez, and Richard V. Reeves explore the steep challenges of implementing and evaluating relationship-based interventions in child welfare. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 23 pages, 741.48 KB].
Out-Of-Wedlock Births Rise Worldwide. YaleGlobal. Joseph Chamie. March 16, 2017
Out-of-wedlock childbirths have become more common worldwide since the 1960s, but with wide variations among and within countries. Inreasing economic independence and education combined with modern birth control methods have given women more control over family planning. In about 25 countries, including China, India and much of Africa, the proportion of such births is typically around 1 percent, explains Joseph Chamie, a demographer and a former director of the United Nations Population Division. In another 25 countries, mostly in Latin America, more than 60 percent of births are out-of-wedlock, a big jump from just 50 years ago. The rates of such births often coincide with public responses which range from severe punishments and stigmatization of children to celebrations and government assistance. In most countries, marriage still provides extra economic protection for parents and children, and governments struggle on how to respond to the trends. “Marriage has become less necessary for women’s financial survival, social interaction and personal wellbeing, and government policies have been slow to keep pace,” Chamie notes. “Like it or not, out-of-wedlock births are in transition worldwide and create challenges for many societies.” [Note: contains copyrighted material].
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Helping Kids and Families Cope With Violence: Safe Start Promising Approaches. RAND Corporation. Dana Schultz et al. March 30, 2017.
Although rates of children’s exposure to violence have been declining in the United States, the problem remains extensive. The most recent study found that more than half of children in a national sample had been exposed to violence in the past year. Children who have been abused or witnessed violence are more likely than other children to develop mental health problems and engage in risky behaviors. Some of these problems can persist into adulthood. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 4 pages, 88.27 KB].
Fatherhood Initiatives: Connecting Fathers to Their Children. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Carmen Solomon-Fears, Jessica Tollestrup. December 28, 2016
In 2016, while the majority of children in the United States lived in families with two parents (69%), an estimated 27% of children were maintained in one-parent homes. Of children in one-parent homes, an estimated 85% were in homes maintained by the mother only. Research indicates that children raised in single-parent families are more likely than children raised in two-parent families (with both biological parents) to do poorly in school, have emotional and behavioral problems, become teenage parents, and have poverty-level incomes. In hopes of improving the long-term outlook for children in single-parent families, federal, state, and local governments, along with public and private organizations, are supporting programs and activities that promote the financial and personal responsibility of noncustodial fathers to their children and increase the participation of fathers in the lives of their children. These programs have come to be known as “responsible fatherhood” programs.
[PDF format, 34 pages, 815.28 KB].
Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Background and Federal Programs. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara. November 8, 2016
While most young people have access to emotional and financial support systems throughout their early adult years, older youth in foster care and those who are emancipated from care often face obstacles to developing independent living skills and building supports that ease the transition to adulthood. Older foster youth who return to their parents or guardians may continue to experience poor family dynamics or lack supports, and studies have shown that recently emancipated foster youth fare poorly relative to their counterparts in the general population on several outcome measures.
The federal government recognizes that older youth in foster care and those aging out are vulnerable to negative outcomes and may ultimately return to the care of the state as adults, either through the public welfare, criminal justice, or other systems. Under the federal foster care program, states may seek reimbursement for youth to remain in care up to the age of 21. In addition, the federal foster care program has certain protections for older youth. For example, states must annually obtain the credit report of each child in care who is age 14 and older. States must also assist youth with developing what is known as a transition plan. The law requires that a youth’s caseworker, and as appropriate, other representative(s) of the youth, assist and support him or her in developing the plan. The plan is to be directed by the youth, and is to include specific options on housing, health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors, workforce supports, and employment services. Other protections require states to ensure that youth age 14 and older are consulted about the development and revisions to their case plan and permanency plan, and that the case plan includes a document listing certain rights for these youth.
[PDF format, 48 pages, 1.22 MB].
Quality and impact of Centre-based Early Childhood Education and Care. RAND Corporation. Barbara Janta, Janna van Belle, Katherine Stewart. November 4, 2016.
There is a strong association between the quality of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) provision and the outcomes for children, with high quality ECEC being associated with better child outcomes later in life. This brief reviewed the broad range of indicators that have been linked to quality, with a focus on understanding how these indicators relate to quality and eventual child outcomes. Following the academic literature on this subject the authors distinguished between structural quality, which relates to the physical environment and staffing requirement, and process quality, which relates to curricular practices, caregiver qualities, and parental involvement. They found that the interaction between structural and process indicators of ECEC quality is complex, and varies significantly across socio-economic, cultural and national contexts, which reflects the beliefs, needs, roles and motivations of the different stakeholders involved in defining ECEC services. Despite this complexity they identified several structural indicators which are frequently considered indicators of high process quality. For each of these indicators they present policy levers for improving ECEC quality, and discuss the context in which these levers work, i.e. whether they act at national level, family and community level or at the level of the childcare setting. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 35 pages, 1.38 MB].
Paternity and parental leave policies across the European Union. RAND Corporation. Janna van Belle. October 20, 2016.
Despite the positive effect of paternity- and parental leave uptake by fathers on a number of economic, social and demographic outcomes, the current uptake of leave by fathers across Europe is low. Research has shown that there is a large number of interlocking factors that affect uptake of leave by fathers, including the height of compensation, the availability of affordable childcare, the flexibility of leave arrangements, gender norms and cultural expectations. The author describes the different policies available across Europe that address the uptake of paternity leave and parental leave, discusses the link between uptake of leave by fathers and the various outcomes associated with uptake, and gives an overview of the existing barriers to uptake. She finds that although low or absent compensation levels during the leave are a key factor why fathers will or cannot take their leave entitlement, an increase in uptake will most likely result from an interlocking set of family policies that help dual earner families to combine work and family life in a sustainable manner. These include policies that directly encourage fathers to take up leave, such as well-compensated individual leave entitlements, policies aimed at creating a sustainable solution to the challenges of combining work and family life, such as leave arrangements that are flexible and adaptive to individual needs, but also policies aimed at changing workplace culture. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 26 pages, 1.6 MB].