Children's Voice Jan/Feb 2008

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End Notes

Health Beat

A compendium of federal child health statistics released last summer show the death rate from heart disease among children is about half what it was in 1980. Also cut in roughly half are children's death rates from birth defects, cancer, pneumonia, and flu, as well as injury-related deaths from motor vehicle accidents, drowning, fires, falls, firearms, and suffocation.

McClatchy Newspapers report that better medicine and new safety measures, as well as expanded government health insurance for disadvantaged children, giving them better access to medical care, have contributed to the decrease. Parents are also drinking and smoking less, thereby reducing birth defects, fires, and car accidents.

"Parents have gotten away from the idea that accidents happen and can't be prevented," McClatchy quoted Frederick Rivera, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle who specializes in injury reduction. "They know child safety seats save lives, and bike helmets prevent head injuries. They believe, as parents, that they can protect their kids, and that's a big change."

Homicide is the only other leading killer that has not relented significantly. Also, while death rates showed similar declines among all racial groups between 1980 and 2004, the death rate for black children remained nearly 40% higher when compared with those for Hispanics, Asians, and non-Hispanic whites, according to McClatchy.

More information about the decline in child death rates is in America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2007, a report available at www.childstats.gov.

Did You Know?

Rural child poverty rates increased between 2000 and 2006 in 37 of the 47 states where rural data was available. Ohio had the largest increase in rural child poverty ( 6.8%), while Maryland had the largest decrease (-4.0%).

Source: Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire analysis of U.S. Census Bureau poverty data.

Research Report

Perceptions of Methamphetamine Use in Three Western Tribal Communities: Implications for Child Abuse in Indian Country. This report from the Tribal Law and Policy Institute includes survey results of professionals in three western tribal communities. The survey assessed community perceptions and awareness of methamphetamine use and its effect on child maltreatment, permanency outcomes, and agency workloads.

Results indicate greater awareness of methamphetamine use and production; increases in the incidence of child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and sexual assault; and increases in the workload of law enforcement and social services. The authors offer recommendations to promote agency collaboration and family reunification, and suggest strategies for funding, programs, and research to reduce the impact of methamphetamine on tribal communities. Download the report at www.tribal-institute.org.

Science Says: Effective and Promising Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs for Latino Youth. This issue brief from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy highlights six programs designed specifically for Latinos that have shown through careful evaluation the programs delay sex, improve contraception use, and reduce teen pregnancy among Latinos. Four other promising programs that have not been rigorously evaluated but have shown encouraging results are also discussed.

The program information is a starting point for those interested in helping Latino teens avoid too-early pregnancy and parenthood. Although teen pregnancy and birth rates among Latinos have declined, still 1 in 2 Latina teens (51%) gets pregnant at least once before age 20--nearly twice the national average. Download the research brief at www.teenpregnancy.org.

Consent to Adoption: Summary of State Laws. This latest publication in the State Statutes Series prepared by the Child Welfare Information Gateway outlines how states differ in how they regulate consent--the agreement by a parent, or a person or agency acting in place of a parent, to relinquish a child for adoption and release all rights and duties with respect to that child. State statutes, not federal law, regulate consent to adoption, and states differ in how they regulate consent.

The state-by-state information is broken down by who must consent to an adoption, age when consent of adoptee is considered or required, when parental consent is not needed, when consent can be executed, how consent must be executed, and revocation of consent. Download the report at www.childwelfare.gov.

Website Info: Ready Resource for Parents

Here's a short quiz: If your teen were to "ROTFL," what would she be doing? Answer: Instant-messaging someone about something really funny (rolling on the floor laughing). If a teen is "leaning," what might he be doing? Answer: Drinking cough syrup and soda. What are the most popular inhalants among teens? Answer: Glue and shoe polish.

Did you pass? Fail? Either way, The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has issued more quiz questions and other useful resource materials about teen-speak and culture as part of its Parent Chronicles Action Kit. The purpose of the Parent Chronicles initiative is to strengthen teen-parent relationships so teens will be less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and engage in risky behaviors.

The Action Kit, available free online at www.mediacampaign.org, includes action items on how to learn more about teen culture, a parent-to-parent forum, and plenty more advice on connecting with teens.

Policy Watch

The original intent of the federal adoption tax credit was to promote adoption of U.S. foster children, but research from Child Trends summarizing U.S. Treasury data finds that most adoption tax credit dollars support children adopted privately or from foreign countries. Specifically, the research finds:
  • Private adoptions accounted for almost half of the children supported by the adoption tax credit, and 38% of the dollars spent on the credit in 2004, the last year for which data are available.

  • Foreign adoptions accounted for just over one-third of the children supported, but 45% of the dollars spent.

  • Children in foster care accounted for 18% of the children supported and 17% of the dollars spent.
"We need to educate parents who adopt foster children about this tax credit," says Rob Geen, Child Trends' Vice President for Public Policy and Director of Child Welfare Research. "We should also consider alternative approaches, such as supporting state and local efforts to recruit adoptive parents or supporting post-adoption services, since the tax credit may not be the most effective means of increasing the adoption of foster children."

Congress enacted the federal adoption tax credit in 1996 to help families defray adoption costs and to promote the adoption of children in foster care. In 2001, Congress increased the tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000 per adoption, and raised the phaseout range from $75,000-$115,000 of income to $150,000-$190,000.

Lend Your Voice

Read and contribute to what thousands of refugee resettlement staff, child welfare workers, teachers, and other service providers nationwide are talking about through a new email listserv created and monitored by Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services. All emails are screened and sent out as periodic digests. Sign up at www.brycs.org/brycs_discussion.htm.


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