Children's Voice May/June 2006

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Bulletin Board

Children of Immigrants and Their Participation in Early Learning

One in five children in the United States has at least one foreign-born parent. Although evidence shows that children of immigrants stand to benefit from early learning programs, they are less likely to participate than are other children. The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) decided to look at the issue more closely, examining children's participation rates in different early care and learning arrangements.

CLASP's findings reveal that:
  • At age 3, 30% of children of immigrants, compared with 38% of children of U.S.-born citizens, attend preschool.

  • At age 4, 55% of children of immigrants attend preschool or kindergarten, compared with 63% of children of U.S-born citizens.

  • At ages 4 and 5, larger numbers of children of immigrants attend kindergarten than do children of U.S.-born citizens. The latter attend preschool at higher rates at both ages.
Families from Central America, Indochina, Mexico, and the Pacific Islands have the lowest rates of enrolling their children, ages 3-5, in preschool or kindergarten. The findings are published in Reaching All Children? Understanding Early Care and Education Participation Among Immigrant Families, available online.

Justice Department to Disclose Complete Missing Children Data

The U.S. Justice Department will soon begin reporting how many children go missing each year in the United States, information the FBI previously refused to release to the general public because officials said data in the National Crime Information Center computer database were confidential police files, according to the Scripps Howard News Service.

Scripps Howard executives wrote President George W. Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last year asking them to begin reporting the information. Using data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Scripps Howard found that several major U.S. police departments, including New York City and the U.S. Navy Criminal Investigative Service, were in regular violation of a 1990 law that ordered local police to report all missing children to the FBI and to each state's clearinghouse for missing and exploited children, as well as to make "an annual statistical summary" of children reported to the FBI to document compliance with the law.

"This has really been embarrassing, and the federal government should be embarrassed," David Thelen, Founder of the Committee for Missing Children, told Scripps Howard. "Without good statistics, we don't know what the problem is or where it is."

In 2004, the New York Police Department, for example, reported only half the number of missing children that either Los Angeles or Chicago reported, even though New York has twice the juvenile population of other cities.

"The important thing isn't who gets any blame for this. The important thing is to correct this in the future," FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko told Scripps Howard. "Any way we can bring this terrible situation more to the forefront to assist law enforcement and parents recover missing and exploited children has to be viewed as an asset."

Study Finds Family Therapy Helps Bullies

Data published in the August 2005 issue of Pediatrics shows that outpatient family therapy seems to be an effective method of reducing anger and improving interpersonal relationships in male youth who exhibit bullying behavior.

The data was from a study of 22 boys with bullying behavior who took part in a family therapy program for six months. A control group of 22 youth took part in a placebo intervention program. Behavior of the youth was tested every six weeks during the study period and for 12 months after treatment.

Compared with the control group, bullying behavior was reduced. Significant differences were observed in general health perceptions, vitality, social functioning, and mental health. Follow-up a year later revealed relatively stable, lasting treatment effects.

Challenges for Rural Families Searching for Affordable Housing

Easing the Transition: Housing Assistance for Rural TANF Recipients is a new report by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) that identifies a number of specific obstacles for rural families who leave welfare and search for affordable housing.

"Many rural Americans face shortages of affordable housing units, jobs that pay well, and adequate transportation," says HAC Executive Director Moises Loza. "Several states have designed housing assistance programs to help meet their welfare leavers' needs, and we found many of them can help rural residents."

Many program officials told HAC they encountered families with serious credit issues, but they used homeownership counseling or partnered with local lenders to qualify these families for mortgages or private market apartment rentals; some required clients to participate in housing or financial counseling.

Another significant gap in rural areas is the shortage of affordable housing units. Overall, states found it difficult to impact this problem, according to HAC's report. One state, however, addressed the issue for some program participants through a partnership with a local nonprofit housing developer.

HAC's report was prepared with support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition to the free online version, a print copy is available for $5.00, including postage and handling; call 202/842-8600, ext. 137, or e-mail luz@ruralhome.org.

Encouraging Kids to Open Books this Summer

According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), the nation's oldest and largest nonprofit children's literacy organization, all young people experience learning losses when they don't engage in educational activities during the summer. Low-income students experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of over two months.

To inspire young people to open a book during their free time, RIF has dedicated part of its website to tips and ideas for engaging in and enjoying books during the summer. Tips include advice on choosing good books, creating reading spaces at home, and how to encourage struggling readers and motivate kids to read. Other resources include a downloadable daily activities calendar, summer activity sheets, reading booklists, a "Game Station," a downloadable summer reading screensaver, and the opportunity to join RIF's Reading Planet Club.

Visit RIF's summer reading site.

Austin Safest for Child Pedestrians

Austin, Texas, is the safest U.S. metropolitan area for child pedestrians, while the most dangerous areas are Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis, Missouri; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, according to a study, Child Pedestrians at Risk: A Ranking of U.S. Metropolitan Areas, released by Safe Kids Worldwide.

The Safe Kids study compared child pedestrian safety in 47 metropolitan areas and explored how different factors influence the safety of a child's pedestrian environment. The study also found that communities are most successful in creating safe pedestrian environments for children when they develop and implement solutions at the local level.

"It's not enough to teach your children to look both ways when they cross the street," says Martin Eichelberger, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "Civic organizations, schools, police, local governments, and caregivers each have a role to play in creating safe walking environments. Children need to learn safe behavior, but children do not bear the ultimate responsibility for pedestrian safety. Whole communities do."

In 2002, 599 children ages 14 and younger died in pedestrian accidents, and an estimated 38,400 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for pedestrian-related injuries in 2003, according to the study. Download the study's full report.


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