Foster Children and Psychotropic Drug Prescriptions – Wyoming

Too much, too young? One in three Wyoming foster care children prescribed psychotropic drugs, By Leah Todd, August 10, 2014, Casper Star-Tribune: “For Cameron O’Malley, weekends at his sister’s house meant tucking a pair of jeans, a few shirts and his toothbrush into his backpack. The 15-year-old’s foster mom would zip a weekend’s worth of pills the size of jelly beans into plastic baggies. Cameron and his sister Carissa, 22, knew the routine: Take daily with food. Carissa didn’t like the medications, prescribed for a list of conditions she was not convinced Cameron even had: Prozac for his hyperactive attention disorder. Fluoxetine for depression. Straterra for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Wellbutrin for depression. They made Cameron’s brain feel weird, like he was thinking in fog. But if the adoption was to go through, he and his sister had to follow the rules. Nearly one in three foster children in Wyoming is prescribed psychotropic medications like the ones Cameron took. That’s more than four times the rate found in other low-income children not living in foster care, where the frequency is one in 12…”

Detroit Water Crisis

In Detroit, water crisis symbolizes decline, and hope, By Bill Mitchell, August 22, 2014, National Geographic: Rochelle McCaskill was in her bathroom about to rinse the soap off her hands when the water stopped. Slowed by lupus and other ailments, she made her way to a bedroom window, peered out, and spotted a guy fiddling with her water valve. ‘There must be a mistake,’ she yelled down. McCaskill explained that she had just paid $80 on her $540.41 overdue bill, enough, she thought, to avoid a shutoff. The man wasn’t interested in the details…”

SNAP and Underemployment

Food stamp use shows continued ‘underemployment’ pain, By Tim Henderson, August 15, 2014, USA Today: “Luxuries were affordable for Linda Fish before she lost her job in retail management in 2009. ‘I won’t lie. The dinners out, the perfect martinis, the salon visits with a master stylist, and the rooms at nice hotels when I was too lazy or tired to do the long commute home—these things I could afford and they made me very, very happy,’ the Chicago resident wrote on her blog soon after she became unemployed. But in the years after she lost her job, Fish “learned to stop worrying and love minimum wage.” She gained a new appreciation for beans, pasta, and oatmeal when she took a $9 per hour job as a bookstore clerk. It was a shock…”

Child Care Subsidies – Missouri

Missouri’s child care subsidies are going to illegal day cares, By Nancy Cambria, August 16, 2014, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “When state regulators acted on a tip last year that an unlicensed home day care in the West End neighborhood of St. Louis was illegal, they found the provider watching 15 children. Of the 15 in her care, nine were related to the caregiver and six were not, state records show. Missouri law allows unlicensed providers to serve an unlimited number of related children, including nieces, nephews and grandchildren. But it limits unrelated children to four. So the regulators found the provider was over the limit by two kids — and running an illegal day care. Yet, records show, that didn’t stop the state of Missouri from paying her $1,103 in child care subsidies that month for six children. Or to continue paying her an average $807 in subsidies every month since…”

Racial Disparity Statistics

America’s racial divide, charted, By Neil Irwin, Claire Cain Miller, and Margot Sanger-Katz, August 19, 2014, New York Times: “America’s racial divide is older than the republic itself, a central fault line that has shaped the nation’s history. This month it has manifested itself in sometimes violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., after a police killing of an unarmed young black man. The resonance of that event is related to deeper racial fissures between blacks and whites; that divide is the reason that the events in Ferguson amount to something bigger than a local crime story. What is the state of that larger divide? In what areas has there been meaningful progress toward shared prosperity over the last generation, and in what areas is America as polarized by race as ever…”


US Teen Birth Rate

  • Teen birth rate has dropped dramatically in last two decades: CDC, By Dennis Thompson, August 20, 2014, Philadelphia Inquirer: “U.S. teen birth rates fell dramatically during the past two decades, plummeting 57 percent and saving taxpayers billions of dollars, a new government report shows. An estimated 4 million fewer births occurred among teenagers as a result of the decline, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…”
  • Teen births: Most are in the South and Southwest, By Sharon Jayson, August 20, 2014, USA Today: “More teens are having babies in the South and Southwest while the fewest are in the Northeast, according to new state-by-state breakdowns of federal data out Wednesday. Births per 1,000 teenagers (ages 15–19) range from a low of 13.8 in New Hampshire to a high of 47.5 in New Mexico, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics based on 2012 data, the most recent available for the states…”

Inequality as felt by Women

Among the poor, women feel inequality more deeply, By Patricia Cohen, August 18, 2014, New York Times: “The attention paid to income and wealth inequality spurred by the French economist Thomas Piketty’s best-selling opus, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” comes with a caveat from some of its fans: What about women? The question may seem odd given that when it comes to wages, women have made far more progress than men over the past three decades. Since the 1980s, men without a college education have seen their real wages — after taking inflation into account — decline 5 to 25 percent. The lower the education level, the steeper the drop…”

Workforce Investment Act

Seeking new start, finding steep cost: Workforce investment act leaves many jobless and in debt, By Timothy Williams, August 17, 2014, New York Times: “When the financial crisis crippled the construction industry seven years ago, Joe DeGrella’s contracting company failed, leaving him looking for what he hoped would be the last job he would ever need. He took each step in line with the advice of the federal government: He met with an unemployment counselor who provided him with a list of job titles the Labor Department determined to be in high demand, he picked from among colleges that offered government-certified job-training courses…”

Hunger in America Report

  • Hunger in America: 1 in 7 rely on food banks, By Natalie DiBlasio, August 17, 2014, USA Today: “When Mary Smallenburg, 35, of Fort Belvoir, Va., opened a package from her mother to find cereal and ramen noodles, she burst into tears. Without it, she wouldn’t be able to feed her four children. ‘It got to the point where I opened my pantry and there was nothing. Nothing. What was I going to feed my kids?’ Smallenburg says, adjusting a bag of fresh groceries on her arm. Smallenburg’s family is one of 50 military families that regularly visit the Lorton Community Action Center food bank. Volunteers wave a familiar hello as she walks in the door…”
  • Hunger in America study shows south central Michigan has high need for food banks, By Linda S. Mah, August 18, 2014, MLive: “A national study on hunger and food insecurity that included research on an eight-county area in south central Michigan, points to high need and continued struggles to balance food issues with other basic needs. The Hunger in America study is released every four years. The Food Bank of South Central Michigan in Battle Creek coordinated an analysis of local hunger issues in Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, Lenawee and St. Joseph counties. Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes food bank works with the Food Bank of SCM to provide food to residents through a network of 24 food pantries…”
  • Study sheds light on broadening U.S. hunger problem, By Andrea Stone, August 18, 2014, National Geographic: “Dusti Ridge leans on her cane and waits patiently for her number to be called at Bread for the City, a food bank in southeast Washington, D.C. When she hears ’56,’ she steps into the nonprofit group’s pantry to find out what she’ll be eating for the next week. Kale, green peppers, yellow tomatoes, and dried cherries—perfect for a favorite brown rice recipe—go into her shopping bag. So does a whole chicken. But she passes on canned green beans; too much salt, she says…”

Suburban Poverty – New England

Poverty persists in N.E. suburbs, By Megan Woolhouse, August 13, 2014, Boston Globe: “New England’s suburbs, often viewed as bastions of sprinkler-fed lawns and roomy SUVs, are also communities of hidden poverty, where one in four families relies on food stamps to stock cupboards with groceries and put food on the table, according to a report to be released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Wednesday. Nearly 2 million people who live in communities surrounding the region’s major cities have low or barely moderate incomes, struggling with the same problems as the urban poor, but without the same services, support, and safety nets, Boston Fed researchers found…”

Payday Lending

New York Prosecutors Charge Payday Loan Firms With Usury, By Jessica Silver-Greenberg, August 11, 2014, New York Times: “A trail of money that began with triple-digit loans to troubled New Yorkers and wound through companies owned by a former used-car salesman in Tennessee led New York prosecutors on a yearlong hunt through the shadowy world of payday lending. On Monday, that investigation culminated with state prosecutors in Manhattan bringing criminal charges against a dozen companies and their owner, Carey Vaughn Brown, accusing them of enabling payday loans that flouted the state’s limits on interest rates in loans to New Yorkers…”

Housing Blight – Buffalo

As an alternative to demolition, Buffalo offers homes for a dollar, By Alana Semuels, August 14, 2014, Los Angeles Times: ”The breeze carries the tinny jingle of the approaching ice cream truck, so Mike Puma leaves the railing he’s painting on his two-family, electric-blue home to buy a milkshake. He pays more for the shake than he did his entire home. Of course, when he bought this home for $1 this year, it had a demolition notice on the door, walls the consistency of a Three Musketeers bar and mold coating the ceilings…”

Credit Score Changes

FICO changes may ease credit access, By Katherine Peralta, August 8, 2014, US News and World Report: “A new calculation of credit scores soon could make it easier for millions of Americans to qualify for car loans and credit cards. The new methodology also could provide easier access to home mortgages after tight post-recession lending standards shut millions of potential new homebuyers, particularly young Americans, out of the market. The Fair Isaac Corp., which issues credit scores used in 90 percent of U.S. consumer lending decisions, said this week that it will give less weight to unpaid medical bills…”

Low-Wage Work

Working anything but 9 to 5, By Jodi Kantor, August 13, 2014, New York Times: “In a typical last-minute scramble, Jannette Navarro, a 22-year-old Starbucks barista and single mother, scraped together a plan for surviving the month of July without setting off family or financial disaster. In contrast to the joyless work she had done at a Dollar Tree store and a KFC franchise, the $9-an-hour Starbucks job gave Ms. Navarro, the daughter of a drug addict and an absentee father, the hope of forward motion. She had been hired because she showed up so many times, cheerful and persistent, asking for work, and she had a way of flicking away setbacks — such as a missed bus on her three-hour commute…”

Public Housing – New York City

Public housing in New York reaches a fiscal crisis, By Mireya Navarro, August 11, 2014, New York Times: “Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of New York City public housing. Advocates for homeless people are demanding more apartments for families living in shelters. School officials want space in public housing for new prekindergarten classes. Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to use open land in the projects for new affordable housing. And just over a quarter of a million households sit on the waiting list for an apartment in one of the New York City Housing Authority’s 334 developments. But the demands on Nycha, as the housing authority is known, clash with a grave financial reality. After years of shrinking government investment in public housing, the agency has a $77 million budget deficit this year and unfunded capital needs totaling $18 billion, its officials say…”

AP Test Support for Low-Income Students

U.S. Helps Bear Costs of Advanced Placement Tests for Low-Income Students, By Caroline Porter, August 12, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “The federal government said Tuesday that it provided $28.4 million in grants to 40 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, to offset the costs of giving advanced placement tests to low-income students. By helping high-school students earn college credits, the program is intended to improve college completion rates and better prepare students. The allotment helped cover more than 769,000 tests nationally in 2014, marking a 6% increase over the previous year, according to the Department of Education…”

Income and Wage Gaps

  • Jobs coming back post-recession, but with much lower pay, study says, By Kathy Bergen, August 11, 2014, Chicago Tribune: “The U.S. has regained the 8.7 million jobs lost in the recession, but the average wage has dropped 23 percent, according to a U.S. Conference of Mayors study released today. The report, ‘U.S. Metro Economies: Income and Wage Gaps Across the U.S.,’ also found a widening income gap between the rich and poor, with the highest earning 20 percent of households gaining the most. Chicago mirrored the national trend…”
  • Lower-paying jobs dominate economic recovery, study finds, By Chris Kirkham, August 11, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “The U.S. economy earlier this year recovered all the jobs lost during the recession, but those new jobs pay an average of 23% less than the ones lost in the downturn, according to an analysis released Monday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Job losses in the higher-paying manufacturing and construction sectors were largely replaced by jobs in lower-wage industries, including hospitality and healthcare, the report said…”

Rural Poverty and Child Health – Ohio

  • Poverty leads to health problems for rural kids, By Jessie Balmert, August 7, 2014, Zanesville Times Recorder: “Children in Ohio’s rural counties face health problems their city peers don’t, and the gap is getting worse, according to a Children’s Defense Fund report released Thursday. More than 28 percent of children in Ohio’s Appalachian counties, including Muskingum County, lived in poverty compared with the state average of 23 percent, according to the report…”
  • Report: Children falling behind in Appalachian Ohio, By Jim Ryan, August 8, 2014, Columbus Dispatch: “Few would be surprised that families in Appalachia struggle with poverty and inadequate access to health care. A new report, however, shows that children in Ohio’s Appalachian counties are even worse off than kids in inner-city neighborhoods…”

Homelessness by State

Which states have the highest levels of homelessness? By Steven Rich, August 8, 2014, Washington Post: “On a given day in 2013, more than 600,000 Americans were homeless. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides state-level estimations of homelessness every year and also collects data on many metropolitan areas. By official measures, the U.S. has seen a 9 percent decline in homeless population since 2007, from about 672,000 to 610,000 last year. In the U.S., about 195 of every 100,000 people were homeless in 2013. Colorado, with a rate of 193 per 100,000, is the closest to that average…”

Rural Poverty

How rural poverty is changing: Your fate is increasingly tied to your town, By Lydia DePillis, August 7, 2014, Washington Post: “The town of Las Animas takes about five minutes to drive through when the one stoplight is blinking yellow, as usual. It’s easy to miss but hard to escape. Just ask Frank Martinez. Martinez doesn’t remember having a deprived childhood. His mom was a home care nurse and his dad was disabled from a workplace injury, but he and his five siblings always had what they needed, even if they didn’t wear the latest Nikes to school. That childhood was cut short, however, when he fathered his first child at 16, married another girl when he was 18, and had three more kids before she left and his grandparents took them in…”