Children's Voice May/June 2007

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Education Week Measures Children's Success by State

A child born in Virginia is significantly more likely to experience success throughout life than is the average child born in the United States, whereas a child born in New Mexico is likely to face an accumulating series of hurdles both educationally and economically, according to an analysis published by Education Week.

The analysis by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center is based on the Chance-for-Success Index, which tracks state efforts to connect education from preschool through postsecondary education and training. The index was developed for Quality Counts 2007: From Cradle to Career, Connecting American Education From Birth to Adulthood, produced by Education Week.

The Chance-for-Success Index provides a perspective on the importance of education throughout a person's lifetime and is based on 13 indicators that highlight whether young children get off to a good start, succeed in elementary and secondary school, and hit key educational and income benchmarks as adults.

Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Virginia rank at the top of the index, while Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Texas lag significantly behind the national average.

"Smart states, like smart companies, try to make the most of their investments by ensuring that young people's education is connected from one stage to the next," says Virginia Edwards, Editor and Publisher of Education Week and Quality Counts, "reducing the chances that students will be lost along the way or require costly remedial programs to acquire skills or knowledge they could have learned right from the start."

To help give a picture of K-12 performance across states, Quality Counts also includes a new State Achievement Index that ranks each state based on whether its students are significantly above or below the national average or are making progress on 15 indicators. Where the Chance-for-Success Index focuses on a range of academic and other indicators throughout an individual's lifetime, the Achievement Index focuses solely on performance during the K-12 years and is based on a combination of current performance outcomes and gains states have made over time.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington State are the top performers on the Achievement Index. Alabama, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia perform at the bottom.

As Quality Counts moves from an exclusive focus on K-12 education to a broader perspective on the connections between K-12 education and the other systems with which it intersects, Education Week is taking the opportunity to rethink the report's core indicators. For that reason, the 2007 report does not grade the states and does not include indicators related to school climate, teacher quality, or school finance, as it has in past years. Indicators on state standards, assessments, and accountability systems in K-12 remain.

Individual findings for each state--including state performance on the Chance-for-Success and State Achievement indices--are available in state highlight reports.

Younger Grandparents Receive Access to Services

Grandparents who are caregivers for grandchildren will now be eligible for supportive services at an earlier age. Last fall, President Bush signed the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2006, which amended the Caregivers Support Program of the Social Security Act to lower the age limit for these grandparent caregiver programs from 60 to 55.

The program supplies federal monetary support for state programs that provide older caregivers such services as caregiver training, respite care, and other supplemental services through the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). The new law also gives priority to caregivers who provide care for children with severe disabilities.

More information about the law and NFCSP is available on the Generations United website.

Report Analyzes European Views of Adolescents

Freedom's Orphans: Raising Youth in a Changing World responds to the debate about today's youth and analyzes evidence from around the world regarding the impact that changes in family, community, and economy have on them. The report specifically explores the way European adults view youth, and the root causes behind youths' frequent inability to transition successfully to adult life.

According to BBC News, "The report says 65% of Germans, 52% of Spanish, and 50% of Italians would be willing to intervene if they saw a group of 14-year-old boys vandalizing a bus shelter, compared with just 34% of Britons." The report also explores the need for structured activities and family socializing among British teens.

"In Britain, as opposed to countries like Spain and Italy, adults are less likely to socialize with children in the evenings," coauthor Julia Margo, Institute for Public Policy Research, told the BBC Radio Five Live.

Order the 200-page report.

Free Heimlich and CPR Instruction for Parents

A nonprofit organization is providing free life-saving instruction to parents and caregivers across America. The organization, CHASE for Life (CPR-Heimlich-Awareness-Education), promotes an 18-minute informational video that uses lyrics, animation, and repetition to help caregivers learn how to perform the Heimlich maneuver and CPR on children.

The organization was started by Farley Boyle, whose daughter's life was saved by the use of CPR after she nearly drowned. Boyle's mission is to raise awareness among parents about the importance of learning life-saving techniques for infants and children. If parents retain 20% of the information in the video, they have an 80% chance of saving a child's life in an emergency situation, according to CHASE for Life.

The video is available online. A Spanish language version of the video will be available in the near future.

Poll Shows Children Need Supports for Healthy Development

Only 31% of America's children have all or most of the basic supports they need for healthy development, according to a Gallup survey developed by Child Trends and the Search Institute for America's Promise. America's Promise developed five categories of resources and supports every child needs to develop fully and well.

These categories, referred to as the Five Promises, include caring adults, safe places and constructive use of time, a healthy start and development, an effective education, and opportunities to make a difference helping others.

The survey indicates only 31% of America's children ages 6-17 have fully experienced four or five promises, while 48% have fully experienced only two or three promises, and 21% have fully experienced no more than one of the five promises. Children with more promises consistently had better outcomes.

"Researchers, like many policymakers and program providers, often have a narrow focus," says Kristin Anderson Moore, Senior Scholar at Child Trends and a leader in the poll's development. "But children are whole people and need a broad set of supports to develop well."

The full report is available online.

New Guide Released on Adoption for Military Families

A guide from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Wherever My Family Is: That's Home! Adoption Services for Military Families, highlights adoption practices that can help minimize the obstacles military families face when attempting to become foster or adoptive parents.

"I am confident this new guide will help state agencies work effectively with military personnel to assure all families who want to give a child a loving home can do so," says Wade Horn, Assistant HHS Secretary for Children and Families.

The user-friendly guide includes stories from military families and is designed for both social work practitioners and military families contemplating adoption or foster parenting.

"The guide supports the professionals dedicated to supporting military families as they navigate the requirements to fulfill their dreams of adopting children," says Barbara Thompson, Director of the U.S. Defense Department's Office of Family Policy. "The strengths of military families are recognized, and helping others understand those strengths will overcome many of the hurdles faced by families who relocate and live across the world."

Wherever My Family Is: That's Home! Adoption Services for Military Families is available by calling 888/200-4005, or online.


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