Improving Child Welfare Outcomes: Balancing Investments in Prevention and Treatment

Improving Child Welfare Outcomes: Balancing Investments in Prevention and Treatment. RAND Corporation. Jeanne Ringelet al. December 13, 2017.

To provide objective analyses about the effects of prevention and treatment programs on improve child welfare outcomes, RAND researchers built a quantitative model that simulated how children enter and flow through the nation’s child welfare system. They then used the model to project how different policy options (preventive services, family preservation treatment efforts, kinship care treatment efforts, and a policy package that combined preventive services and kinship care) would affect a child’s pathway through the system, costs, and outcomes in early adulthood. This study is the first attempt to integrate maltreatment risk, detection, pathways through the system, and consequences in a comprehensive quantitative model that can be used to simulate the impact of policy changes. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 69 pages, 1.86 MB].

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Child and Dependent Care Tax Benefits: How They Work and Who Receives Them

Child and Dependent Care Tax Benefits: How They Work and Who Receives Them. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Margot L. Crandall-Hollick. October 26, 2017

Two tax provisions subsidize the child and dependent care expenses of working parents: the child and dependent care tax credit (CDCTC) and the exclusion for employer-sponsored child and dependent care.
The child and dependent care tax credit is a nonrefundable tax credit that reduces a taxpayer’s federal income tax liability based on child and dependent care expenses incurred. The policy objective is to assist taxpayers who work or who are looking for work. A taxpayer must meet a variety of eligibility criteria including incurring qualifying child and dependent care expenses for a qualifying individual and have earned income.

[PDF format, 20 pages, 842.02 KB].

Investing Early: Taking Stock of Outcomes and Economic Returns from Early Childhood Programs

Investing Early: Taking Stock of Outcomes and Economic Returns from Early Childhood Programs. RAND Corporation. Jill S. Cannon et al. November 16, 2017.

The past two decades have been characterized by a growing body of research from diverse disciplines — child development, psychology, neuroscience, and economics, among others — demonstrating the importance of establishing a strong foundation in the early years of life. The research evidence has served to document the range of early childhood services that can successfully put children and families on the path toward lifelong health and well-being, especially those at greatest risk of poor outcomes. As early childhood interventions have proliferated, researchers have evaluated whether the programs improve children’s outcomes and, when they do, whether the improved outcomes generate benefits that can outweigh the program costs. This report examines a set of evaluations that meet criteria for scientific rigor and synthesizes their results to better understand the outcomes, costs, and benefits of early childhood programs. The authors focus on evaluations of 115 early childhood programs serving children or parents of children from the prenatal period to age 5. Although preschool is perhaps the best-known early childhood intervention, the study also reviewed such programs as home visiting, parent education, government transfers providing cash and in-kind benefits, and those that use a combination of approaches. The findings demonstrate that most of the reviewed programs have favorable effects on at least one child outcome and those with an economic evaluation tend to show positive economic returns. With this expanded evidence base, policymakers can be highly confident that well-designed and -implemented early childhood programs can improve the lives of children and their families. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 322 pages, 1.58 MB].

Kids’ Share 2017: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2016 and Future Projections

Kids’ Share 2017: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2016 and Future Projections. Urban Institute. Julia B. Isaacs. October 31, 2017.

Public spending on children by federal, state, and local governments is an investment in the nation’s future because it supports children’s healthy development, helping them fulfill their potential.
To help interested stakeholders assess the government’s investment in children, this 11th edition of the annual Kids’ Share report provides an updated analysis of federal expenditures on children from 1960 through 2016. It also projects federal expenditures on children through 2027 to give a sense of how budget priorities may unfold absent changes to current law. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 60 pages, 7.56 MB].

Dual Language Learners: A National Demographic and Policy Profile

Dual Language Learners: A National Demographic and Policy Profile. Migration Policy Institute. Maki Park, Anna O’Toole, and Caitlin Katsiaficas. October 2017.

Dual Language Learners (DLLs)—those under age 8 with at least one parent who speaks a language other than English at home—make up 32 percent of the U.S. young child population and a growing share of children in most states. While these young learners stand to benefit disproportionately from high-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC), they are less likely than their peers to be enrolled in such programs—potentially contributing to lags in kindergarten readiness and later academic achievement.

The fact sheets in this series offer a sociodemographic sketch of the DLL population (and comparison to non-DLL peers) at both the national level and in the 30 states with the most DLLs, providing data on age and enrollment, race/ethnicity, income and poverty levels, parental English proficiency and educational attainment, and top home languages spoken in DLL households.

The fact sheets also provide an overview of the policies states have introduced to support DLLs and their families in accessing quality ECEC programs, drawing from an MPI survey of state ECEC agencies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Later School Start Times in the U.S.: An Economic Analysis

Later School Start Times in the U.S.: An Economic Analysis. RAND Corporation. Marco Hafner, Martin Stepanek, Wendy M. Troxel. August 30, 2017.

Numerous studies have shown that later school start times are associated with positive student outcomes, including improvements in academic performance, mental and physical health, and public safety. While the benefits are well-documented in the literature, there is opposition against delaying school times across the U.S. A major argument is the claim that delaying school start times will result in significant additional costs due to changes in transportation, such as rescheduling bus routes. This study investigates the economic implications of later school start times by examining a policy experiment and its subsequent state-wide economic effects of a state-wide universal shift in school start times to 8:30 a.m.

Using a novel macroeconomic modelling approach, the study estimates changes in the economic performance of 47 U.S. states following a delayed school start time, which includes the benefits of higher academic performance of students and reduced car crash rates. The benefit-cost projections of this study suggest that delaying school start times is a cost-effective, population-level strategy which could have a significant impact on public health and the U.S. economy. From a policy perspective, the study’s findings demonstrate the significant economic gains resulting from the delay in school start times over a relatively short period of time following the adoption of the policy change. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 57 pages, 1.07 MB].

Care and Connections: Bridging Relational Gaps for Foster Youths

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].