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.

Remembering Anita Datar: Celebrating her commitment to family

Anita Datar with her son Rohan. Photo courtesy of Heather M. Gleason

Anita Datar with her son Rohan. Photo courtesy of Heather M. Gleason

In late January 2016, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution honoring the life of my neighbor and friend, Anita Datar, the American victim in the November 20th terrorist attack in Mali. The resolution acknowledges her many accomplishments: she served as a volunteer in Senegal, where she embraced the Peace Corps’ value of promoting a better understanding of people and their cultures from countries around the world as a tool for promoting peace. She became an international health and development expert focused on reproductive health, family planning, and HIV. She helped found Tulalens, a nonprofit working to connect under-served communities to quality health services by crowd-sourcing information on the health clinic experiences of pregnant women. But the resolution also acknowledges what I admired most about Anita: her role as a mother. Read More

Promoting quality improvement in early care and education

sb6Early childhood is a critical time for brain development and building essential skills. Improving the quality of early education (ECE) settings to promote children’s well-being has been a priority in the field for the past two decades. With 40 quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) across the country, more states are working toward improving quality in ECE settings than ever before. Yet, surprisingly little is known about the effectiveness of these quality improvement initiatives, or what it takes to implement them successfully. Read More

Why We Need to Talk about Guns and Youth

Four students walking togetherIt isn’t an exaggeration to say that guns are a part of people’s lives in the South, where about 40 percent of households have guns. Growing up and living in North Carolina, I’ve known people who have owned and used guns regularly since their teen years. I think this is why, when the topic of gun control surfaces (most recently with President Obama’s executive actions), my Facebook feed becomes a battleground of opinions, often with a lot of hostility on both sides. But polarized conversations don’t help address gun injuries and deaths, which is unfortunate, because our children’s lives depend on it. In 2014, over 6,500 young people from birth through age 24 died by firearms, and in 2013, over 29,000 were injured.[1],[2] Beyond the number of deaths and injuries in any given year, guns affect youth in several concrete ways. Read More

The STEM Trifecta: Intellect, Interest, and Intent

Joy ThompsonDuring one of my high school summers, my dad enrolled me in G.E.M.S.—Girls Excited about Math and Science. Truth be told, I was anything but excited. “Science is hard; Math is hard.” These are mantras that, like many, I had heard throughout my schooling experience and bought into. The idea that science and math are tough subjects, especially for certain groups—such as girls or underrepresented minority students—has been reinforced time and again. Despite my initial resistance, after a few short weeks in G.E.M.S., I began to enjoy the various hands-on and real-world experiences that were offered. That initial spark grew, as I am now working to finish my doctorate in applied developmental psychology. But I know that not all students have such experiences to help counter some of the negative messaging about math and science. That messaging has created a culture where efficacy in, enthusiasm for, and participation in STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – desperately need a boost. Read More

You Should Understand How We Pay for Child Welfare Services

Cute girl with long hair sitting alone near windowFor nearly a decade, Child Trends has been tracking how states fund child welfare activities. I love talking about child welfare funding, but I’ve noticed others’ eyes glaze over when I announce, for example, that states spent over $28.2 billion on child welfare activities in state fiscal year 2012 (the latest data available). Numbers are so abstract.

Those funds meant something major, though, to the 678,932 children who were victims of maltreatment in federal fiscal year 2013.    Read More

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