Trend Lines Blog

Welcome to Child Trends’ blog, Trend Lines, where we share key findings from child and youth research and offer insights to inform  policies and programs.

Poverty’s Pernicious and Persistent Toll on Young Children

siblingsEvery new parent has expectations that their child will have good health, do well in school, find a good job, and experience happiness in their personal and family life. For children born into poverty, meeting these expectations is much harder.

Children are the poorest age group in the country, and among children, the youngest are the poorest.  In 2013, 20 percent of all children in the U.S. were poor; 24 percent of children under age three were poor.  That’s 2.9 million children. Among black children, 43 percent are poor.  Among Hispanics more than one-third are poor.

At Child Trends, we’ve synthesized the research on the risks that poverty poses to children. The findings underscore the pernicious and persistent effects of poverty: Read More

Too Many Teens Ask: “Where Will I Sleep Tonight?”

homestretchI have a movie recommendation for you. It has all the makings of a blockbuster:  suspense, humor, lovable characters you can relate to, and it’s a tearjerker to boot. It follows the protagonists as they fight for their lives through all kinds of hurdles, while somehow holding on to an incredible spirit.

Unfortunately, though, I’m not talking about a movie set in a war zone, or, the latest superhero comic book adaptation. I’m talking about The Homestretch, a documentary following the real lives of three homeless youth enrolled in Chicago public schools. Read More

Investing in Prevention: Avoiding the Individual and Societal Costs of Child Maltreatment

156300672In FY 2013, almost 700,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect in the United States. As if this figure was not dismal enough, official maltreatment numbers are widely understood to underestimate the true prevalence of child maltreatment. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, giving us an opportunity to reflect on the hundreds of thousands of victims of child maltreatment and push forward with efforts to prevent maltreatment from ever occurring. Read More

Moving Parents and Children out of Poverty: a Two-Generation Approach

familyondockLet’s start out with a success story, as told by United Way of Central Indiana. Tiffany is a single mother living in Indiana. Before receiving assistance Tiffany was unemployed and experiencing severe depression which was further complicated by the threat of losing her home and difficulties her children were experiencing in school. She was then visited by a case manager from a local social service agency, supported by the United Way. Tiffany enrolled in a family stability program which promotes housing and school stability for vulnerable families with children enrolled at local elementary schools. Within six months she was able to ensure her home would pass HUD inspection. The agency also provided scholarships so her children could attend a five week summer camp focused on academic enrichment and character development. Tiffany was provided with job training, and this has resulted in promising employment prospects. As of last fall she was interning in the front office of the agency that assisted her.

By focusing jointly on the development of both Tiffany and her children, this agency engages families using a two-generation approach. This approach has elicited growing interest in policy, research, and practice arenas within the past few years. Read More

Strong Fiscal Management is Key to Nonprofit Sustainability

skills billsWhile the closure of non-profit social service organizations is relatively uncommon, when it occurs it can disrupt the lives of thousands.  In 2012, the world-famous Hull House in Chicago closed for financial reasons, leaving thousands of children and their families without services, at least temporarily. This past January, FEGS Health and Human Services, one of New York City’s largest social service agencies, closed suddenly for financial reasons.  Again, thousands were affected.

Even when financial struggles are not serious enough to cause closures, they can disrupt the delivery of services and get in the way of good program planning.  For example, programs that serve adolescents who are disconnected from school, family and work—and therefore vulnerable to multiple risks in their communities—often rely upon the development of strong relationships between staff members and youth as a way of reaching young people.  When financial challenges result in lay-offs, relationships are disrupted, threatening young people’s stability.

In the United States non-profit organizations provide critical developmental and other support to millions of American families and their children. The sustainability of these organizations is important to all communities across the country. Read More

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