Children's Voice Jan/Feb 2009

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End Notes

Dispatch from Abroad


Colombian singer Shakira and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

Colombian pop singer Shakira took the opportunity of the 18th Ibero-American Summit, held in El Salvador in October, to address Latin American leaders and urge them to give more support to children in poverty. According to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) article, the summit was planned to focus on youth facing poverty, but the global economic crisis took over the agenda. Still, participating nations signed agreements to help underprivileged youth.

Shakira commented on the link between the two issues: "We know that in this world financial crisis, hunger will spread in the poorest layers of our society and thousands of children risk dying from hunger," she said, according to the AFP piece.

Shakira started a children's charity in Colombia in 1997, and helped launch the Fundacion ALAS (Latin America in Solidarity Action). AFP reported that she presented a project that would provide food, health, and education to 22 million poor Latin American children under age 6. "In a country like mine, when a child is born poor, people die poor. But I'm fascinated by the fact that through education you can transform lives, you can end this cycle of poverty," Shakira told Reuters.

Ready Resources

"I know it when I see it" would never work as a definition for a child's well-being. Fortunately, the Welfare Information Network provides a list of resources for a variety of indicators of child well-being that are increasingly being used by governments and nonprofit organizations alike on the federal, state, and local levels. In addition to describing the demographic characteristics of a population, statistical indicators help measure the impact of welfare reform and other policies and practices. Child well-being indicators cover a host of variables, which indicate health status, cognitive functioning, and social and emotional maturity. Visit their website for a list of electronic resources and publications, as well as brief summaries on what some states are doing to implement their own indicators.

Sustaining Grassroots Community-Based Programs: A Toolkit for Community- and Faith-Based Service Providers is a new resource from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Community- and faith-based treatment providers play a key role in getting critical services for people affected by substance abuse and mental health disorders, and SAMSHA designed this toolkit to help these organizations plan for long-term survival. Grassroots organizations, which operate with time-limited grant funding and categorical funding, often have to search for funds to cover program expenses. The toolkit offers tips and planning worksheets to help achieve sustainability within six booklets: strategic planning; organizational assessment and readiness; effective marketing strategies; financial management; fund development and fundraising; and results-oriented evaluations.

The American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law and Casey Family Programs, with the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania and the Juvenile Law Center, collaborate to maintain the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education (FCE) website. As part of the mission to provide research and resources for policy and legal questions about education for foster children, the site includes a searchable resource library and chronicles recent relevant publications. The Legal Center FCE also sponsors periodic conference calls, which are open to anyone interested, and is linked to the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education, of which CWLA is a member organization.

Health Beat


Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson has been crossing the nation to build participation in the "Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future" initiative to combat childhood obesity. The Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention Initiative was launched by First Lady Laura Bush in November 2007, and as part of it, Galson has recognized over 30 local programs across the country with "Community Champion Awards" for helping children stay active, encouraging healthy eating habits, and promoting healthy choices. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest 17.1% of children are overweight, with another 16.5% at risk of becoming overweight. For more on the initiative and the Community Champions recognition, visit www.surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention .

A study published in Pediatrics this fall examines what type of family settings correlated to injury in toddlers. Recognizing that injury is the leading cause of death for U.S. children, the study used a sample of 3,449 children enrolled at birth in 15 cities; they were followed until age 30 to 33 months. Part of the motivation for the study was the growing number of grandparent caregivers, which a U.S. Census Bureau estimate puts at nearly 1.8 million. According to the study's abstract, there were fewer injuries requiring medical attention among children in their grandparents' care, and more injuries in children who were living without their fathers or with unmarried parents. "Household composition seems to play a key role in placing children at risk for medically attended injuries," the conclusion reads. "Risk Factors for Unintentional Injuries in Children: Are Grandparents Protective?" is in Vol. 122, No. 5 of Pediatrics, and can be found online.

Research Report

Doing their best to overcome the tough economic times, the National Center for Children in Poverty offers a two-for-one deal: a general report and state profiles. Staying Afloat in Tough Times: What States Are and Aren't Doing to Promote Family Economic Security examines three areas of state-level fiscal policies that help families avoid and cope with economic difficulties: work attachment and advancement, income adequacy, and asset development and protection. The study shows a wide disparity between states' policies, and the 50 individual state profiles allow further examination of the differences. View the report and the state profiles.

As part of a full report entitled Developmental Status and Early Intervention Service Needs of Maltreated Children, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute published a snapshot highlighting intervention services for infants and toddlers. The snapshot notes that states are required by law to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers in substantiated maltreatment cases. The institute says that because maltreated children are at greater risk for developmental delays, getting screening and intervention services sooner could help prevent those delays. Download the snapshot and view the full report.

Did You Know?

For the first time since the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System data have been reported, at the end of Fiscal Year 2007 the estimated number of children in care dropped below 500,000, to 496,000. The total number of children served in FY 2007 is estimated to be 783,000, the lowest number since AFCARS data have been reported. This information is according to the Children's Bureau Trends in Foster Care and Adoption report updated in August 2008.

To comment on this story, e-mail voice@cwla.org.




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