Category Archives: Children

Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011

Source: Lynda Laughlin, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P70-135, April 2013

From the press release:
Child care costs have nearly doubled in the last quarter century while the percentage of families who pay for child care has declined, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011 released today. The percent of family income spent on child care has stayed constant between 1986 (the first time these data were collected) and 2011, at around 7 percent, for families who paid for child care even though the cost of child care has increased over time….

…Families with an employed mother and children younger than 15 (see chart) paid an average of $143 per week for child care in 2011, up from $84 in 1985 (in constant 2011 dollars). The median wage for a full-time child care worker did not increase over the last 20 years. The median wage for a child care worker in 2011 was $19,098, not different from $19,680 in 1990 (in constant 2011 dollars). The percent of families who reported they made a cash payment for child care for at least one of their children declined from 42 percent to 32 percent between 1997 and 2011….

Nurse Staffing and NICU Infection Rates

Source: Jeannette A. Rogowski, Douglas Staiger, Thelma Patrick, Jeffrey Horbar, Michael Kenny, Eileen T. Lake, JAMA Pediatrics, Published online March 18, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
There are substantial shortfalls in nurse staffing in US neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) relative to national guidelines. These are associated with higher rates of nosocomial infections among infants with very low birth weights…. Hospitals understaffed 32% of their NICU infants and 92% of high-acuity infants relative to guidelines. To meet minimum staffing guidelines on average would require an additional 0.11 of a nurse per infant overall and 0.39 of a nurse per high-acuity infant…. Substantial NICU nurse understaffing relative to national guidelines is widespread. Understaffing is associated with an increased risk for VLBW nosocomial infection. Hospital administrators and NICU managers should assess their staffing decisions to devote needed nursing care to critically ill infants….

Policy Basics: Top Ten Facts about Social Security

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Updated November 6, 2012

From the summary:
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935. Almost eight decades later, Social Security remains one of the nation’s most successful, effective, and popular programs. It provides a foundation of income on which workers can build to plan for their retirement. It also provides valuable social insurance protection to workers who become disabled and to families whose breadwinner dies.

Fact #1: Social Security is more than just a retirement program. It provides important life insurance and disability insurance protection as well….
Fact #2: Social Security provides a guaranteed, progressive benefit that keeps up with increases in the cost of living….
Fact #3: Social Security provides a foundation of retirement protection for nearly every American, and its benefits are not means-tested….
Fact #4: Social Security benefits are modest….
Fact #5: Children have an important stake in Social Security….
Fact #6: Almost half of the elderly would be poor without Social Security. Social Security lifts 14 million elderly Americans out of poverty….
Fact #7: Most elderly beneficiaries rely on Social Security for the majority of their income….
Fact #8: Social Security is particularly important for minorities….
Fact #9: Social Security is especially beneficial for women….
Fact #10: Social Security can pay full benefits through 2033 without any changes. Relatively modest changes would place the program on a sound financial footing for 75 years and beyond….
Why Minorities Need Social Security More
Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Financial Security Project, Squared Away blog, February 7, 2013

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.