End Notes

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Dispatch From Abroad


In early August, 14-year-old Laura Dekker set sail from the Netherlands to Portugal with plans to circumnavigate the globe solo, hoping to become the youngest person to do so. Her first attempt at the trip last fall was delayed after the Dutch Child Welfare Office intervened, citing concerns about Laura's youth, the length of the trip--about two years--and her physical safety and emotional development during that time. A family court placed Laura in shared custody of the Council for Child Care until July 1, the end of the school year. Then last December, Laura violated the court order by running away, to a Dutch Caribbean island; when she was found, police escorted her home. The legal battle continued and the court extended her shared custody through August 1. However, in late July, a higher Dutch court over-ruled, and Laura finalized plans for the trip. Her father accompanied her on her August 4 sail to Portugal, where she began her solo sail.

Earlier this summer Nigeria was struggling to contain an overwhelming number of lead poisoning cases in communities in Zamfara, a state in the northern part of the country. In the first half of the year, more than 350 cases had been reported, with more than 170 child deaths--most of them children younger than 5. Discovery of a gold deposit in the region started a gold rush among impoverished farmers, who dug up rocks by hand without realizing that the ore contained high levels of lead, which can be dangerous for people, especially children. Dust from the open mines spread throughout the area. The Dutch arm of Doctors Without Borders, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the New York-based Blacksmith Institute, an anti-pollution consultant group, were all reported to be helping treat the population and contain the outbreak.

Health Beat

Seven locations in Missouri will host a six-session course on meeting the mental health needs of youth. Offered for free as a service of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Missouri for parents, foster parents, and custodial relatives of children and adolescents with mental health needs, the sessions cover disorders including attention deficit and hyperactivity, bipolar, conduct, oppositional defiant, anxiety, obsessive compulsive, schizophrenia, depression, and substance abuse. The course also addresses coping skills, listening and communications skills, and an overview of the mental health and school systems' roles in treating children with mental health needs. This particular course, NAMI Basics, was the subject of two recent studies; one had positive results and the other had not yet been published at press time.

Abill proposed in the Michigan Senate will provide a carrot-and-stick approach towards making foster homes smoke-free if passed. SB 905 would allow the Department of Human Services to adjust wages so that foster parents who do not smoke would be paid an extra 50 cents per day, and those who do smoke would be paid 50 cents less per day. According to an opinion piece in the Lansing State Journal, MSW stu-dent Amanda Teich says that 4,400 of the 17,000 children in Michigan foster care in 2006--or 1 in 4--were exposed to secondhand smoke on a daily basis in their placements. Teich also asserts that more than a dozen states have passed similar legislation.

Ready Resources

CWLA is pleased to be a launch partner for the new site SparkAction.org, an online journalism and advocacy center by and for the child and youth field. SparkAction.org covers the range of child and youth issues and gives organizations, leaders, and young people themselves a place to share their knowledge and ideas, and together raise a stronger voice for change. The site, at http://sparkaction.org, includes recent research, first-hand stories, ways to connect with Congress, and more. SparkAction also offers The Update, a biweekly e-newsletter.

There are roughly five million uninsured children in the United States who are currently eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has issued a call for everyone working with and on behalf of children to help find and enroll these children (see "Changes Ahead," page 28). Toward this end, HHS launched the "Get Covered, Get in the Game" initiative in seven pilot states this summer. The initiative will bring together coaches, schools, and communities to educate families with children who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP about the immediate availability of children's health coverage programs. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will support events launching this initiative, outreach to news outlets across the pilot states, coaches' trainings, and the placement of promotional materials at select youth sporting events to help direct families to enrollment assistance. For more information about enrolling in children's health insurance programs, visit www.InsureKidsNow.gov.

Research Report

A map from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT Data Center shows the percentage of children living with neither parent in 2008.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS COUNT Data Book was published in July. With information from and rankings for each state, as well as nationwide data, this annual publication profiles the well-being of America’s children based on 10 measures. A complementary website, the KIDS COUNT Data Center, provides more options to customize data in meaningful visualizations. Visit the Data Center at http://datacenter.kidscount.org, where there is also a link to download the Data Book.

Over the summer the Urban Institute released a study on the persistence of childhood poverty. Connecting poverty at birth, poverty through childhood, and outcomes during adulthood, Childhood Poverty Persistence: Facts and Consequences found that 49% of babies born poor will be poor for at least half their childhoods. Those poor at birth—13% of all children—are more likely to be poor between ages 25 and 30, drop out of high school, have a teen nonmarital birth, and struggle to remain employed. The authors of the study recommend education, training, and work supports for parents, as well as consideration of home visiting programs. Access the abstract and download the full study at www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=412126.

Apaper published by the Urban Institute examines education for homeless children and youth in the years since the McKinney-Vento program began. The report, titled Residential Instability and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Education Program, examines the situation for these youth in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region. It also offers suggestions for future research questions that might help policymakers plan improvements to the program. Read the abstract and introduction, and download the full document, at www.urban.org/ publications/412115.html.

Have an opinion on child welfare issues in the news, especially the comments above? Send a letter to the editor to voice@cwla.org.

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