Category Archives: Children

Do state spending differences create an unequal playing field for children?

Source: Julia B. Isaacs, Urban Institute, April 25, 2017

Some states spend less on their children than others, including public education, health, and social services costs. Arizona, for example, spent less than $4,900 per child in 2013, whereas New York spent slightly more than $12,200 per child (after adjusting for cost of living).

These wide disparities in public investment raise concerns about whether children nationwide are on equal footing when pursuing the American Dream. Though children’s outcomes are affected by many factors, health and education outcomes tend to be better in states that spend more on children.

Differences in K–12 education funding cause most of these differences. New York also spends more per capita than Arizona on Medicaid services for children, cash assistance, child welfare services, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, child care assistance, and child support enforcement. In addition, New York has a state earned income tax credit, but Arizona does not…..
Unequal Playing Field? State Differences in Spending on Children in 2013
Source: Julia B. Isaacs, Sara Edelstein, Urban Institute, Research Report, April 25, 2017

From the abstract:
For children to thrive and reach their full potential, they need adequate food and shelter, high-quality health care and education, safe environments, and supportive parents and families. Though families play a key role in meeting children’s needs, society also provides resources and services to support children’s healthy development.

Through their funding of public schools, health systems, and social services, state and local governments provide resources and services to support children’s healthy development. Although not all investments translate directly into better child outcomes, a wide disparity in public investments raises concerns about whether children from low-spending states are on equal footing when pursuing the American Dream….

Kids struggle to safely cross busy streets

Source: Richard Lewis, Futurity, April 24, 2017

Children under a certain age don’t have the perceptual judgment and motor skills to cross a busy road consistently without putting themselves in danger, report researchers.

For the new study, children 6 to 14 years old participated in a realistic simulated environment and had to cross one lane of a busy road multiple times.

Children up to their early teenage years had difficulty consistently crossing the street safely, with accident rates as high as 8 percent with 6-year-olds. Only children who were 14 were able to navigate street crossing without incident. Children who were 12 mostly compensated for inferior road-crossing motor skills by choosing bigger gaps between cars…..
Changes in Perception–Action Tuning Over Long Time Scales: How Children and Adults Perceive and Act on Dynamic Affordances When Crossing Roads
Source: Elizabeth E. O’Neal, Yuanyuan Jiang, Lucas J. Franzen, Pooya Rahimian, Junghum Paul Yon, Joseph K. Kearney, Jodie M. Plumert, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, April 20, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This investigation examined developmental change in how children perceive and act on dynamic affordances when crossing roads on foot. Six- to 14-year-olds and adults crossed roads with continuous cross-traffic in a large-screen, immersive pedestrian simulator. We observed change both in children’s gap choices and in their ability to precisely synchronize their movement with the opening of a gap. Younger children were less discriminating than older children and adults, choosing fewer large gaps and more small gaps. Interestingly, 12-year-olds’ gap choices were significantly more conservative than those of 6-, 8-, 10-, and 14-year-olds, and adults. Timing of entry behind the lead vehicle in the gap (a key measure of movement coordination) improved steadily with development, reaching adultlike levels by age 14. Coupled with their poorer timing of entry, 6-, 8-, and 10-year-olds’ gap choices resulted in significantly less time to spare and more collisions than 14-year-olds and adults. Time to spare did not differ between 12-year-olds, 14-year-olds, and adults, indicating that 12-year-olds’ more conservative gap choices compensated for their poorer timing of entry. The findings show that children’s ability to perceive and act on dynamic affordances undergoes a prolonged period of development, and that older children appear to compensate for their poorer movement timing skills by adjusting their gap decisions to match their crossing actions. Implications for the development of perception–action tuning and road-crossing skills are discussed.

Gains in Reducing Child Poverty, but Racial-Ethnic Disparities Persist

Source: Jessica Carson, Beth Mattingly, Andrew Schaefer, University of New Hampshire, Carsey School of Public Policy, National Issue Brief #118, Spring 2017

From the summary:
In 2015, for the second year in a row, child poverty rates declined in the United States. However, familiar patterns in levels and characteristics of child poverty persist: more than one in five children are poor; children of color are at disproportionate risk for poverty; and rates are highest in the South and West and in rural areas and cities (Table 1).

This brief uses data from the American Community Survey to investigate patterns of child poverty across race-ethnicities and across regions and place types. We also explore changes in child poverty rates since 2014 and since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. The estimates presented in this brief are based on the official poverty measure (see Box 1 on page 3). Native Americans, Alaskan and Hawaiian natives, and those reporting multiple racial-ethnic backgrounds are excluded from this update because such samples are too small for meaningful analyses.

Key Findings:
– Between 2014 and 2015, child poverty fell for all race-ethnicities except Asians.
– The largest declines in child poverty occurred among blacks and Hispanics, and the poverty gap between them and white and Asian children narrowed.
– Black child poverty rates dropped in cities, suburbs, and rural places; for children of all other race-ethnicities, rural rates remained stable.
Press release

Universal Child Care, Maternal Employment, and Children’s Long-Run Outcomes: Evidence from the US Lanham Act of 1940

Source: Chris M. Herbst, Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 35 no. 2, April 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This paper analyzes the US Lanham Act of 1940, a heavily subsidized and universal child care program administered during World War II. I first estimate its impact on maternal employment using a triple-differences model. I find that employment increased substantially following the introduction of the program. I then study children’s long-run labor market outcomes. Using Census data from 1970 to 1990, I assess well-being in a life-cycle framework by tracking cohorts of treated individuals throughout their prime working years. Results from difference-in-differences models suggest the program had persistent positive effects, with the largest benefits accruing to the most economically disadvantaged adults.

Are Parental Welfare Work Requirements Good for Disadvantaged Children? Evidence From Age-of-Youngest-Child Exemptions

Source: Chris M. Herbst, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Volume 36, Issue 2, Spring 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This paper assesses the impact of welfare reform’s parental work requirements on low-income children’s cognitive and social-emotional development. The identification strategy exploits an important feature of the work requirement rules—namely, age-of-youngest-child exemptions—as a source of quasi-experimental variation in first-year maternal employment. The 1996 welfare reform law empowered states to exempt adult recipients from the work requirements until the youngest child reaches a certain age. This led to substantial variation in the amount of time that mothers can remain home with a newborn child. I use this variation to estimate the impact of work-requirement-induced increases in maternal employment. Using a sample of infants from the Birth cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, the reduced form and instrumental variables estimates reveal sizable negative effects of maternal employment. An auxiliary analysis of mechanisms finds that working mothers experience an increase in depressive symptoms, and are less likely to breastfeed and read to their children. In addition, such children are exposed to nonparental child care arrangements at a younger age, and they spend more time in these settings throughout the first year of life.

Targeted or Universal Coverage? Assessing Heterogeneity in the Effects of Universal Child Care

Source: Michael J. Kottelenberg, Steven F. Lehrer, Journal of Labor Economics, Ahead of Print, March 30, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We provide evidence on the distributional effects of Quebec’s universal child care policy. Our analysis uncovers substantial policy relevant heterogeneity in the estimated effect of access to subsidized child care across two developmental score distributions for children from two-parent families. Whereas past research reported findings of negative effects on mothers and children from these families, igniting controversy, our estimates reveal a more nuanced image that formal child care can indeed boost developmental outcomes for children from some households: particularly disadvantaged single-parent households. We present suggestive evidence that the heterogeneity in policy effects is consistent with differences in home learning environments.

Children’s health insurance, family income, and welfare enrollment

Source: Martin Saavedra, Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 73, February 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Children from wealthier families are more likely to have health insurance than children from poorer families on average. However, the relationship between family income and health insurance is non-linear, as children near the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) are less likely to be insured than children from both wealthier families (who obtain health insurance from the private market) and poorer families (who obtain government-funded health insurance). This health insurance dip has persisted even as Medicaid has been expanded to cover those above the FPL. One explanation for this is that families who are far below the poverty line are better connected to the welfare system, and consequently, are more likely to enroll in Medicaid. This study uses data from the 2001–2013 Current Population Surveys and finds that (1) controlling for many of the determinants of eligibility, those on other forms of government assistance are more likely to have health insurance, and (2) the relationship between family income and children’s health insurance status is strictly increasing after controlling for enrollment in other welfare programs


• Children near the poverty line are some of the least likely to have health insurance.
• Children on public assistance are more likely to have insurance.
• The insurance-income relationship is increasing after controlling for welfare enrollment.

Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding

Source: Emilie Stoltzfus, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R43458, January 10, 2017

Child welfare services are intended to prevent the abuse or neglect of children; ensure that children have safe, permanent homes; and promote the well-being of children and their families. As the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted, states have the primary obligation to ensure the welfare of children and their families. At the state level, the child welfare “system” consists of public and private child protection and child welfare workers, public and private social services workers, state and local judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement personnel. These representatives of various state and local entities assume inter related roles while carrying out child welfare activities, including
• promoting child and family well-being through community-based activities;
• investigating, or otherwise responding to, allegations of child abuse and neglect;
• providing services to families to ensure children’s safety in the home;
• removing children from their homes when that is necessary for children’s safety;
• supervising and administering payments for children placed in foster care;
• ensuring regular case review and permanency planning for children in foster care;
• helping children leave foster care to permanent families via reunification with parents or, when that is not possible, via adoption or legal guardianship;
• offering post-permanency services and supports to maintain families; and
• helping older children in foster care, and youth who leave care without placement in a permanent family, to become successful adults. ….

….This report begins with a discussion of the status of FY2017 appropriations, which had not been finalized as of early January 2017, and then reviews federal appropriations activity in FY2016. The remainder, and bulk, of the report provides brief descriptions of each federal child welfare program, including its purpose and recent (FY2012-FY2016) final funding levels……

K-3 Policymakers’ Guide to Action: Making the early years count

Source: Bruce Atchison, Emily Workman, Louisa Diffey, Education Commission of the States, ECS Policy Report, November 22, 2016

From the abstract:
This special report summarizes the top policy components 12 of the nation’s top content experts convened by Education Commission of the States prioritized for a high-quality K-3 system.