The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development announced last fall it was adding 22 new study centers to the largest-ever U.S. children's health study. The new centers join seven existing centers in the planned National Children's Study, which will examine the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children across the United States, tracking them from before birth until age 21. The study's goal is to improve the health and well-being of children.
The $3.2 billion project is the result of the Children's Health Act of 2000, in which Congress directed federal agencies to undertake a national, long-term study of children's health and development specifically related to environmental exposures. The first results of the national study are expected as early as 2009 or 2010. Learn more at www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov .
Did You Know?
"In 2006, the number of uninsured children age 18 and under grew by 710,000 to reach 9.4 million. The likelihood of a child being uninsured also increased significantly to 12.1% in 2006, up from 11.2% in 2005."
Source: What Happened to Health Insurance Coverage of Children and Adults in 2006, by John Holahan and Allison Cook, Published by the Urban Institute (2007); online at www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=1001101.
In response to the devastating impact that methamphetamine addiction has had on families, schools, and communities, Congress has put $10 million toward a public education campaign, Life After Meth. Television and radio advertising for the campaign is running in seven states, and print advertising is debuting in six additional states through March. Coordinated through the National Office of Drug Control Policy's National Youth Anti-Drug Campaign, the advertising focuses on young adults, ages 18-34, encouraging them to seek treatment. The campaign's public service announcements are free to download online.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has come up with a new tool for finding kids. The Missing Kid Saver is a screensaver that displays images of missing children from the region in which the computer user lives. The images and information are pulled from NCMEC's database and displayed in real time. The Missing Kid Saver is an opt-in service and can be downloaded for free.
The nonprofit advocacy groups Autism Speaks and First Signs are sponsoring a new online video "glossary" of the red flags that may indicate a child has autism. The site aims to promote early diagnosis and treatment, increasing the chances young children with autism will lead normal lives. The site contains more than 100 free video clips. All of the children in the clips have been diagnosed with autism.
The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education is a national resource and information clearinghouse for child welfare professionals, attorneys, judges, legislators, policymakers, and journalists on legal issues related to the educational needs of youth in foster care. The initiative is a collaboration between Casey Family Programs and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law. The site has three main components: a resource clearinghouse, a national foster care/education listserv, and information about regularly scheduled conference calls.
Dispatch from Abroad
UNICEF recently reported the number of children dying worldwide has dropped below 10 million a year for the first time, and presented data suggesting life-saving measures like vitamin A supplements, insect nets, and vaccines could be the reason for the good news, according to the Associated Press.
Global child deaths dropped to 9.7 million in 2005, down from nearly 13 million in 1990. In Morocco, Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic, specifically, child death rates dropped by more than a third, and in Africa, increased vaccination coverage reduced measles deaths by 75%, according to UNICEF's data, which is based on government-conducted surveys in more than 50 countries in 2005-2006.
"We are very encouraged by this progress," the Associated Press quoted Anne Veneman, UNICEF's Executive Director. "If we can maintain the sense of urgency, then real progress can be made."
At least one paper, published last fall in the medical journal The Lancet, questioned the data collection methods used by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
"Considering all the tools we have for child survival, we are not doing better at reducing child mortality now than we were three decades ago," lead author Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told the Associated Press. "The difference between our paper and UNICEF's announcement may be a matter of interpretation."
During the 1980s, when the United States entered an era of criminal justice reform intended to "get tough on crime," the number of incarcerated people--many of them parents--grew exponentially. In response, the child welfare community scrambled to learn more about how children of the incarcerated were coping.
In the 1990s, CWLA held the National Institute on Children of Incarcerated Parents and in 1998 published a special issue of Child Welfare journal in focusing on the topic of children with parents in prison.* Many gaps in the knowledge about these children existed at the time. Among the questions, for example, were how many children involved in the child welfare system had parents in prison, what were their specific needs and were those needs different than for other children in the child welfare system?
Ten years later, a pair of researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have written a research brief addressing many of the shortfalls in knowledge that were raised in that issue of Child Welfare, and examining new data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), funded by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families.
Authors Susan Phillips and James Gleeson note that NSCAW is not a study specifically of children of incarcerated parents in the child welfare system, but it is "the most detailed and reliable national data currently available on the safety, permanency, and well-being of children that child welfare agencies come into contact with, and it contains seminal data about the criminal justice system's involvement in these families."
The NSCAW data, for example, suggests far more families involved with the child welfare system are also involved with the criminal justice system than was originally thought in 1998--as many as 1 in 8 children who are reported victims of maltreatment have parents who were recently arrested.