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.

Funding and Federal Support for Kinship Care on the Rise

181303640Several weeks ago, I was a member of a workshop panel at the 2014 Child Welfare League of America’s National Kinship Care Conference. It was a great experience – I was able to connect with state representatives, advocates, and researchers working on a variety of kinship issues—issues facing grandparents, relatives, and close family friends (also known as fictive kin) who are raising children either inside or outside of the child welfare system. My panel shared our findings from a 2012 study on states that have Title IV-E guardianship assistance programs (GAP). Established in 2008 by The Fostering Connections Act, GAP provides financial assistance for grandparents and relatives who care for children who have been removed from their parents due to child abuse or neglect. The program allows children and families that meet federal and state requirements to achieve permanency and exit the child welfare system, while continuing to receive financial support. Currently, 31 states, the District of Columbia, and four tribes have GAP programs.

Our report, Making it Work: Using the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) to Close the Permanency Gap for Children in Foster Care, discusses findings from a series of interviews with the states that have taken up the Title IV-E GAP option. Read More

Family Structure and Family Formation among Low-Income Hispanics in the U.S.

fam formation brief coverWhile National Hispanic Heritage Month ends October 15, the importance of celebrating Hispanic achievements and exploring issues relevant to Hispanic families continues year-round. Today, the National Research Center for Hispanic Children & Families, funded by a grant from the Office of Research, Planning and Evaluation within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, releases its first report— Family Structure and Family Formation Among Low-Income Hispanics in the  U.S.

Hispanic Americans have been a fundamental part of the U.S. landscape since this country’s inception. In fact, Hispanics were the first settlers of what is today the southwest of the United States. (The umbrella terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” are often used interchangeably to refer to people of Latin American or Spanish ancestry, regardless of country of origin.) In 2013, there were approximately 54 million Hispanics living in the United States, making up 17 percent of the total U.S. population, and the number continues to grow, shifting national demographics. As the Hispanic population has grown, another important demographic shift has occurred: a shift in how families form. Fewer people are marrying and many more births are occurring outside of marriage. However, changes in family structure have not impacted all racial/ethnic groups in the same way, and we know less about Hispanic families than we do about many other groups. Read More

Integrative Housing Policies Can Improve Education Opportunities for Low-Income Kids

school busLow-income students across the United States attend schools with lower average test scores than students whose families have higher incomes. These families are often unable to access high-performing schools because housing is expensive in the neighborhoods where these schools are located. In the largest 100 U.S. metropolitan areas, housing is 2.4 times as expensive in neighborhoods with high-performing schools than in neighborhoods with low-performing schools. Since Hispanic and black families are more likely to have low incomes, this housing landscape perpetuates segregation of racial and ethnic minority families into high-poverty neighborhoods and schools. Many studies have found that increases in poverty and racial and ethnic segregation in schools are associated with inferior student performance. In short, the doors to academic success are closed early for many low-income and minority children. Read More

Evaluating School Initiatives for Better Outcomes

boy idea lightbulbSchools across the country are beginning new school-based initiatives to address and improve the social, emotional, and academic needs of their students. Whether with the help of the recently funded “Now is The Time” grant programs (Project PREVENT, Project AWARE, and the School Climate Transformation Grants) or developed internally, schools are implementing new programs, collecting new data, and working towards better outcomes. In the process, it is easy to overlook perhaps the most central of questions – how do we know whether the programs that are being implemented are actually improving outcomes? Even the most evidence-based program may be ineffective for certain schools  or groups of students(Bumbarger, Perkins, & Greenberg, 2010).

It is critical, then, to continually evaluate both program implementation and impact. Not all evaluations are useful, however. Here are five things to consider for evaluating new initiatives: Read More

Will Recent Progress in Academic Achievement Translate into Broader Gains in the Well-Being of Hispanic Youth?

With the school year just begun, the U.S. reaches a watershed: for the first time in our history, racial minorities comprise the majority of students in public schools. How our schools, our other institutions, and we as individuals respond to this new demography will have much to say about our shared future.

The largest of these minority groups is Hispanic/Latino—a category of great diversity in itself. Today, one in four U.S. children is Latino; by 2050, it will be one in three—about the same proportion who will be white/non-Latino.

As Child Trends’ report, America’s Hispanic Children: Gaining Ground, Looking Forward, shows, the recent progress of Hispanic children in America—particularly in the area of education—is remarkable on its face.

improvement in ed indicators graph Read More