Category Archives: Children

Child Welfare: States Use Flexible Federal Funds, But Struggle to Meet Service Needs

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-13-170, January 2013

From the summary:
The four states GAO selected used funds provided under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act for a variety of child welfare services and other activities, and had different strategies for spending these funds. For instance, in fiscal year 2011 Virginia provided funding to all local child welfare agencies to spend on their own priorities, such as parenting classes. New Mexico targeted certain counties for services, such as intensive in-home services for families at risk of foster care.

States nationwide also use other federal funds, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) funds, as well as Medicaid, for purposes covered under Title IV-B. In the spring of 2011, 31 states reported spending TANF funds, and in fiscal year 2010, 44 states reported spending SSBG funds on these purposes. Some states also claim federal Medicaid reimbursement for activities covered under Title IV-B. One selected state, Minnesota, claimed reimbursement for case management for children at risk of foster care placement in 2011. Funds authorized under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act make up the large majority of federal child welfare funds, but are designated for purposes such as providing room and board payments for children in foster care and subsidies to adoptive parents, and generally cannot be used for child welfare services. However, 14 states have waivers allowing them to use these funds more flexibly to improve child and family outcomes. Among GAO’s selected states, Florida had a waiver allowing it to use some Title IV-E funds for in-home services designed to prevent foster care placement.

Many services, including substance abuse treatment and assistance with material needs, such as housing, are difficult for child welfare agencies to secure due to a variety of challenges. A 2008-2009 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) survey that sampled children and families in the child welfare system found that many did not receive needed services. For example, an estimated 58 percent of children age 10 and under at risk of emotional, behavioral, or substance abuse problems had not received related services in the past year. Local child welfare officials in four selected states reported service gaps in multiple areas. Service gaps may harm child wellbeing and make it more difficult to preserve or reunite families. For example, officials from one locality noted 2- to 3-month wait times for substance abuse services. Due to the chronic nature of the disease, delays in receiving services may make it more difficult to reunify families within mandated deadlines. Officials cited factors contributing to service gaps that included provider shortages and lack of transportation. Additionally, officials noted difficulty securing services from partner agencies, such as housing authorities. State fiscal constraints, which affect both child welfare and partner agencies, contribute to such difficulties.

Online Resources for State Child Welfare Law and Policy

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, Child Welfare Information Gateway, Current Through August 2012

From the abstract:
This publication provides web addresses for State statutes that are accessible online and lists the parts of the code for each State and territory that contains the laws addressing child protection, adoption, child welfare, legal guardianship, and services for youth. It also provides web addresses for States’ regulation and policy sites, State court rules, Tribal codes, and judicial resources. Information for each State and territory can be accessed on the State Statutes Search page.

Head Start Report Speaks to Role School Bus Drivers Can Play in Child Development

Source: Ryan Gray, School transportation News, December 20, 2012

A final report issued this summer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that evaluates Head Start programs in the United States suggests that school bus drivers are among agency employees who engage families and communities as well as assist in tracking a student’s success in the federal program for low-income preschoolers….
Final Report
Source: Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation, August 2012

School Bus verses Public Transportation: Secondary Educational Opportunities resulting from the Transportation Alternatives

Source: David Peterson, Transportation analyst for St. Paul (MN) Public Schools,White Paper, December 4, 2012

From the School Transportation News story:
In his paper “School Bus Versus Public Transportation: Secondary Educational Opportunities Resulting from the Transportation Alternatives,” David Peterson, transportation analyst for St. Paul (Minn.) Public Schools, set out to provide a solution to inflexible school bus schedules at dismissal that discourage participation in school-activity programs.

The first part of his solution is to assign students to neighborhood schools, were students can generally walk home after activities, if a ride on the school bus or with parents or others cannot be obtained. However, the majority of neighborhood students would still be school bus riders, which he adds is an “enormous” marginal cost savings for school districts over public transportation for large groups of students. And students with IEPs and 504 plans, homeless students and others with “special needs” would continue to ride the school bus unless other more economical means are identified on a case-by-case basis…

The Recession's Ongoing Impact on Children, 2012: Indicators of Children's Economic Well-Being

Source: Julia Isaacs, Olivia Healy, Urban Institute, December 2012

From the abstract:
This issue brief provides nearly “real-time” tracking of the recession’s impact on children, with state-by-state data through 2012 on children with an unemployed parent and individuals receiving SNAP benefits, as well as the authors’ predictions of state child poverty rates for 2012. There has not been much change in children’s economic well-being over the past year, but there has been a sharp deterioration compared with conditions before the recession. Compared to 2007, more children today live in families with an unemployed parent, families that turn to SNAP benefits to help pay their grocery bills, and/or families below the poverty threshold.

Sick kids, struggling parents

Source: C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, University of Michigan, Volume 16 Issue 5, October 22, 2012

From the highlights:
• Nearly two-thirds of parents of young children in child care say their children could not attend because of illness in the past year.
• One-third of parents of young children are concerned about losing jobs or losing pay when taking off work to care for their sick children.
• 8% of parents with kids in child care say taking their sick child to the emergency room is more convenient than seeing a primary care doctor.

Child Care Subsidies: Who's Eligible Varies by State

Source: Sarah Minton and Christin Durham, Urban Institute, Metro Trends blog, November 29th, 2012

The first in a three-part series about state child care subsidy policies from the CCDF Policies Database. Tomorrow: Assistance for Unemployed Parents Searching for Jobs

The high cost of child care can be a significant obstacle to finding and keeping a job, especially for low-income parents. Child care subsidies can help low-wage parents pay for high-quality care, allowing them to continue working or looking for work, but whether subsidies are available and how much support they provide depends in part on which state families call home.

Child Care Subsidy Policy: Access to What?

Source: National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, White Paper, September 2012

From the summary:
This report provides an overview of the reality parents face in finding child care under current state assistance approaches. Given today’s economy, parents need all the help they can get to find affordable, quality child care in their community. But, when states do not use current market rate surveys and set subsidy rates well below market…
See also:
Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2012 Report
Source: Child Care Aware of America, 2012
Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2012 Report presents 2011 data reflecting what parents pay for full-time child care in America. It includes average fees for both child care centers and family child care homes. Information was collected through a survey conducted in January 2012 that asked for the average costs charged for child care for infants, 4-year-old children and school-age children in child care centers and in family child care homes in every state. The information was provided by State Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Network offices and local agencies that maintain data about child care programs in the communities they serve, or it was drawn from the most recent state market rate surveys.

Infographic: No Kidding Around: Where Does Daycare Cost More than College?
Source: GOOD and Column Five Media, 2012

Supplemental Security Income for Children with Disabilities

Source: Shawn Fremstad and Rebecca Vallas, National Academy of Social Insurance, Social Security Brief, No. 40, November 2012

Supplemental Security Income, signed into law by President Nixon in October 1972, assists Americans with limited resources who are elderly or have significant disabilities, including about 1.3 million children with severe mental and physical disabilities. SSI provides a small monthly income supplement that helps families offset some of the additional costs of raising a child with disabilities, replaces some of the parental income lost due to staying home to care for the child, and provides basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter, enabling families to raise their children with disabilities at home rather than in an institution.

Estimates vary depending on how disability is defined and measured, but national statistics find that 8 to 9 percent of children have a relatively serious disability. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) is the most widely accepted framework for understanding disability today. It views disability as an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations, or participation restrictions.

Long Run Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net

Source: Hilary W. Hoynes, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, and Douglas Almond, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 18535, November 2012

From the abstract:
A growing economics literature establishes a causal link between in utero shocks and health and human capital in adulthood. Most studies rely on extreme negative shocks such as famine and pandemics. We are the first to examine the impact of a positive and policy-driven change in economic resources available in utero and during childhood. In particular, we focus on the introduction of a key element of the U.S. safety net, the Food Stamp Program, which was rolled out across counties in the U.S. between 1961 and 1975. We use the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to assemble unique data linking family background and county of residence in early childhood to adult health and economic outcomes. The identification comes from variation across counties and over birth cohorts in exposure to the food stamp program. Our findings indicate that the food stamp program has effects decades after initial exposure. Specifically, access to food stamps in childhood leads to a significant reduction in the incidence of “metabolic syndrome” (obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes) and, for women, an increase in economic self-sufficiency. Overall, our results suggest substantial internal and external benefits of the safety net that have not previously been quantified.