Child Poverty Rising, According to 2007 KIDS COUNT
Few publications better illuminate the status of America's children and pinpoint trends in their well-being than the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT Data Book. KIDS COUNT is updated every year using 10 benchmark indicators that show how states have advanced or regressed over time.
Nationally, the data present a complex picture of American children. In this year's KIDS COUNT, 6 of the 10 indicators of child well-being showed that conditions have improved since 2000, while child well-being has worsened on 4 indicators.
The change in child well-being is particularly clear when comparing changes in the rate of child poverty since the mid-1990s. Between 1994 and 2000, the child poverty rate fell 30%--the largest decrease since the 1960s. Since 2000, the child poverty rate has increased by 2 percentage points, meaning almost 1.2 million more children lived in poverty in 2005 than in 2000.
The entire KIDS COUNT Data Book is available online, including state-bystate rankings, supplemental data, and an essay, Lifelong Family Connections: Supporting Permanence for Children in Foster Care. Visit www.kidscount.org.
CDC Public Awareness Campaign Focuses on Child Development
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have launched a public awareness campaign, Learn the Signs, Act Early, to help child care providers and health care professionals educate parents about child development. All materials are free and available in both English and Spanish at www.cdc.gov/actearly.
Campaign materials include fact sheets, posters, and fliers about the early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders, and they encourage developmental screening and intervention. The materials can be used for
Report Bolsters Preventing Rather than Suppressing Gangs
- professional development training sessions,
- distribution at conferences,
- e-cards and other information to distribute to member listservs,
- website content, and
- articles about the campaign for publications and newsletters.
Amidst debates among lawmakers over proposed legislation to stiffen penalties for gang-related crime and increase funding for gang suppression, the Justice Policy Institute released a report in July arguing traditional gang suppression activities have failed to promote public safety.
"The current preoccupation with gangs is a distraction from very real problems of crime and violence that afflict too many communities," says Kevin Pranis, coauthor of Gang Wars: The Failure of Enforcement Tactics and the Need for Effective Public Safety Strategies. "Gangs do not drive crime rates, and aggressive suppression tactics simply make the situation worse by alienating local residents and trapping youth in the criminal justice system. Our review of the research found no evidence that gang enforcement strategies have achieved meaningful reductions in violence, but ample proof that science-based social service interventions can curb delinquency."
The report is based on a review of existing research on gang problems and enforcement in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and St. Louis, as well as North Carolina. The report advocates that public policy be directed toward reducing youth violence by learning from the lessons of the past and results from recent innovations in juvenile justice policy by
The report is available at www.justicepolicy.org.
- expanding the use of evidenced-based practice to reduce youth crime;
- promoting jobs, education, and healthy communities, and lowering barriers to the reintegration into society of former gang members, and
- redirecting resources from failed gang enforcement efforts to proven public safety strategies.
America's Children: Good and Bad News About Well-Being
Both gains and setbacks for the nation's children are highlighted in this year's America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2007, issued by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.
A compendium of the most recent federal statistics on the nation's children, the report presents a comprehensive look at critical areas of child well-being. These encompass family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health.
Compared with the national statistics for the previous year, increases were seen in the
Decreases were seen in the
- percentage of children living with at least one working parent,
- percentage of young adults who completed high school,
- percentage of children served by community water systems that did not meet all applicable standards for healthy drinking water,
- percentage of children living in physically inadequate or crowded housing or housing that cost more than 30% of household income,
- percentage of low birthweight infants,
- percentage of births to unmarried women, and
- rate at which youth were perpetrators of serious violent crime.
For the report's 10th anniversary this year, forum members revised the structure of the report, adding two new sections: Physical Environment and Safety, and Health Care. Nine new indicators were also added--child maltreatment, oral health, drinking water quality, lead in the blood of children, child injury and mortality, adolescent injury and mortality, sexual activity, college enrollment, and asthma.
- percentage of children living in households classified as food insecure, and
- adolescent birth rate.
The report is available at www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/index.asp.
Strategy Developed for Moving Families from Poverty to Prosperity
Responding to the needs of 37 million Americans living below the official poverty line, the Center for American Progress unveiled a national strategy earlier this year to cut poverty in half over the next 10 years. The strategy was created by the Task For ce on Poverty, a group of national experts and leaders convened by the center.
To set and achieve a national goal of cutting poverty in half, the task force suggests the United States follow four principles--promote decent work, provide opportunity for all, ensure economic security, and help people build wealth. The task force also recommends taking the following 12 steps toward that goal:
The task force estimates the combined cost of its principal recommendations is in the range of $90 billion a year--"a significant cost, but one that could be readily funded through a fairer tax system," states its report, From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half. To read the report online, visit tinyurl.com/236v2q.
- Raise and index the minimum wage to half the average hourly wage. This would help nearly 5 million poor workers and nearly 10 million other low-income workers.
- Expand the earned income and child tax credits.
- Promote unionization by enacting the Employee Free Choice Act. The increased union representation made possible by the act would lead to better jobs and less poverty for American workers.
- Guarantee child care assistance to low-income families, and promote early education for all.
- Create 2 million new "opportunity" housing vouchers, and promote equitable development in and around central cities.
- Connect disadvantaged and disconnected youth with school and work. About 1.7 million poor youth ages 16-24 were out of school and out of work in 2005.
- Simplify and expand Pell Grants, and make higher education accessible to residents of each state.
- Help former prisoners find stable employment and reintegrate into their communities.
- Ensure equity for low-wage workers in the unemployment insurance system.
- Modernize means-tested benefits programs to develop a coordinated system that helps workers and families.
- Reduce the high costs of being poor, and increase access to financial services.
- Expand and simplify the federal saver's credit to encourage saving for education, homeownership, and retirement.
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