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 Teens Benefit from Healthy Relationships with Family and Friends

Hispanic family laughing togetherEvery Sunday, my extended family gathers together for dinner, but one recent family dinner was particularly special because my youngest cousin just graduated high school. As I met my cousin’s girlfriend and other close friends, I offered him some helpful words of advice about relationships, jobs, and college—things I wish I had known at that age.

My conversation reminds me about the importance of relationships with family, friends, and mentors to adolescents’ lives. The relationship skills that boys and girls develop during adolescence can help youth make positive decisions about other aspects of their lives. Knowing how to establish and maintain positive relationships can make a difference as youth make decisions related to romantic relationships, friendships, school, and work. Read More

From Basketball to Fatherhood, Stephen Curry and LeBron James Are MVPs

If you’ve been watching the NBA playoffs, you’re no stranger to the Curry family. Riley Curry, two-year-old daughter of Warriors star Stephen Curry and his wife, Ayesha, became an instant celebrity a few weeks ago when she joined a post-game press conference with her famous father. Stephen brought Riley onstage, sat down, and then attended to her needs while simultaneously responding to a room full of reporters. As a researcher who studies early childhood, watching Stephen interact with Riley was the highlight of my day, but quite a bit of controversy was sparked by his decision to bring Riley to “work.” This is not the first time that a professional athlete has been criticized for their parenting. Curry joins a long line of celebrity fathers who are often questioned for their decisions, such as whether to be present for the birth of a child or how long their paternity leave should be.

father's day blog

Modification of photos by Stephen Curry /

As champions of child development and parental involvement, I think we should celebrate these moments – intimate, once-in-a-lifetime interactions between fathers and their children. has created a new promotional message with NBA players supporting parenting and families, including a message from LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron, father of three, is actively involved in the LeBron James Family Foundation, engaging with children on a regular basis as they pursue their educational goals. Read More

The Importance of Permanent Connections for Youth in Foster Care

may- basketballFoster care is a complex system designed to provide care and support for children and adolescents when their parents or guardians are not able or willing. Unfortunately, for many of the over 200,000 youth currently in foster care who are over age 14, being in foster care can also mean missing out on what most in America would consider rites of passage for an adolescent, such as school sponsored activities, learning to drive a car, making social connections, and having a part-time or summer job. An additional 23,000 young adults who “aged out” of foster care in 2013 also likely missed out on at least some of these opportunities.  (“Aging out”  means they left foster care because they became too old to continue receiving services, rather than exiting to a permanent, stable home.) This is cause for concern, since these opportunities provide the developmental milestones important for a successful transition to adult life. Read More

Hit Send? Programs Weigh the Pitfalls and Potential of Texting

Teens textingAmong the 88 percent of U.S. teens with cell phones, 91 percent use text messaging. (Among adults, it’s 90 and 81 percent, respectively.) Teens send and receive an average of 30 texts per day. I’m from a pre-texting generation, and I’m not sure I fully understand its popularity. I’m also concerned about the potential for texting (and other uses of handheld electronic media) to distract children, and their parents, from paying attention to safety and the intrinsic value of face-to-face interactions. Read More

Vulnerable Children in the Ledger: The Challenges Facing Child Welfare Agency Budgets

State Child Welfare Policy Database thumbnailEvery other year at Child Trends, we conduct a survey examining the funding streams that support child welfare services in all fifty-state states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the results of which  are featured in a report and through an online database.  The last survey found that, for the first time in nearly 20 years, total spending on child welfare in the U.S. had declined.

Child welfare agencies play a critical role in protecting children and helping families: they are charged with ensuring that children are protected from harm, and have the opportunity to grow up in safe, nurturing, and stable families. State child welfare agencies provide a range of services to children, families, and communities in order to promote the wellbeing of children who have experienced abuse or neglect, or who are at risk of doing so. It’s interesting to look at where and how we, as a country, decide to spend our money, given that we want our kids (and every kid) to be safe and healthy. Read More

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