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.

How to scale up successful programs

emcfWhen I first started learning about youth development, I was astounded by the number of programs and interventions that claim to improve outcomes for children and youth. The Child Trends What Works LINKS (Lifecourse Interventions to Nurture Kids Successfully) database contains information on hundreds of rigorously evaluated programs. I would quickly learn, however, that not all of these programs are effective. In fact, it can be quite difficult to develop a program that has concrete, measurable impacts on children and youth. For example, in a recent LINKS synthesis, 14 of the 50 programs evaluated were not found to positively impact their target outcome of reducing problem behaviors in young children.

An effective program, then, can be a gem. Getting it out there—across the country or the world, in the communities where it could make a difference—is the ultimate goal of any program developer. We call this “scale-up,” and it comes in many forms. Read More

How the Syrian Refugee Crisis Hits Home for Me

Syrian refugee childThis year, I spent my Fourth of July in Cayce, South Carolina, celebrating the fortieth anniversary of my family’s resettlement in America. Along with my fifteen cousins, I eavesdropped as my parents, aunts, and uncles recounted stories—half in English, half in Vietnamese—about their evacuation from Vietnam in April 1975. My maternal grandmother was eight months pregnant when she, my grandfather, and their six other children (ranging from three to seventeen years old) fled on a naval ship. Despite the difficulties of leaving their home and venturing into an uncertain life, all seven of my grandmother’s children who relocated to the United States have received a college education, started families, and are thriving.

However, I recognize that my family’s story may not be characteristic of all refugee families. Just days after our celebration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that more than four million refugees had fled Syria, and an additional 7.6 million were displaced within the country—the largest refugee crisis in the world. Of the four million Syrian refugees who have left the country, more than two million are children. And more than 8,000 children have crossed Syria’s borders without their parents. Read More

42 Million Opportunities: Adolescent Health Matters

sad thinking teen girlPeriodically, I stumble upon one of my journals from middle or high school and decide to take a stroll down memory lane. This usually ends with the conclusion, “Ack! Glad I grew out of that drama!” (a feeling probably driven by my tendency to journal only when I was either really happy or really upset). While I consider my adolescence a fairly good one (thanks to some key relationships and plenty of opportunities to explore my interests), part of me still feels that awkward twinge when reflecting on those years.

And that’s normal because adolescence can so often be an awkward time of life. During adolescence, youth go from childhood, where others are directing them, to being the primary directors of their lives – an often messy and challenging transition. At the same time, that transition contains all the potential for the future and constitutes the difference between a thriving adult population or a struggling one.

In the United States, nearly 42 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 are currently living through this transition. The vast majority are generally healthy; still, many struggle with significant challenges, including mental health issues, substance misuse, obesity, and violence. Read More

Educación for Hispanics: Why the Urgency

Today, one in three jobs requires some post-secondary education and training beyond high school, and by 2020, workers with a post-secondary education are projected to hold 65 percent of all jobs. Given that Hispanics are the nation’s fastest-growing minority group among children, the educational gains of Hispanic students in the U.S. will have a profound impact on the future economic success of the country.

Last month, President Obama announced an investment of over $335 million aimed at Hispanic students. As we mark the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH), we should reflect on why it’s so critical to support Hispanic students in finishing high school and completing college. Read More

How About Implementing Positive Youth Development with Emerging Adults and Adults?

happy group in libraryHealthy People 2020 identifies positive youth development (PYD) as a major new approach for interventions, describing it as “the intentional process of providing all youth with the support, relationships, experiences, resources, and opportunities needed to become successful and competent adults.” A growing number of evaluations suggest that PYD can improve youth outcomes , and that incorporating it into existing interventions can enhance their effectiveness. For example, youth are more likely to join, attend, and be engaged in all types of programs that employ a positive youth development approach.

Positive youth development has been defined by eight key elements :

  • Physical and psychological safety;
  • Supportive relationships;
  • Opportunities to belong;
  • Support for efficacy and mattering;
  • Positive social norms;
  • Opportunities for skill-building;
  • Appropriate structure; and
  • Integration of family, school, and community efforts.

If these approaches are successful for youth, why wouldn’t they be effective for young adults and for adults more generally? Read More

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