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.

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

Free Community College for All, but Completion for Just a Third?

young man on college campus stepsIn his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama called for free community college for all responsible students “so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today.” In his proposed budget, President Obama allocated $60 billion to support the program over 10 years. Why is the president going all in on community colleges? One likely reason is that, by 2020, two out of every three jobs will require some postsecondary education, while today only about 46 percent of adults have a postsecondary credential. Offering free community college would help close this gap, but the effort will be seriously undermined without drastic improvements in community college effectiveness.
Read More

How to Link Head Start Data to State Early Care and Education Data Systems

preschool girl freaking adorableHappy birthday, Head Start! Having begun its very first session in the summer of 1965, Head Start is celebrating 50 years of serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable children. The program has been a positive force for young children through the provision of early care and education – serving more than 30 million children over 50 years and now located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. A new brief highlights the importance of linking Head Start data to state early care and education data systems (ECE) to inform key decisions by state policymakers and guide efforts to improve early childhood program responsiveness and effectiveness. Read More

There Are Some Good Trends on Today’s Teens

dv1644067Bad news makes good headlines, so good news sometimes flies under the radar. It grabs people’s attention that young people are burdened with unprecedented debt, or that marijuana use is increasing. But many indicators of youth well-being are improving. Because I work on maintaining the Child Trends Databank, I see these hopeful trends every day, and think it is important to sometimes emphasize the positive ones.

Among the most well-known of these positive trends is the steady decrease in teen pregnancies and teen births. President Obama cheered this trend in his State of the Union Address in January.  In 1990, teen pregnancies had hit a high of 117 pregnancies per 1,000 teens.  In 2010, the rate was less than half that. Teen births show a similar trend, falling from 62 to 27 births per 1,000 teens between 1991 and 2013. This is a positive story because teenage mothers, compared with older mothers, are less likely to finish high school or go on to college, and more likely to be dependent on government benefits, especially in the first years after giving birth.

Teens are also less likely to die than in past decades. Read More

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