School Breakfast Programs – New Jersey

More than half of low-income children get breakfast in school in NJ, By Diane D’Amico, February 14, 2017, Press of Atlantic City: “Almost 268,000 low-income children in New Jersey got free or reduced-price breakfast in the last school year, a 6 percent increase from the year before, according to a national report. But breakfast is still not readily available to every child eligible to receive it.  The annual School Breakfast Scorecard, released Tuesday by the Food Research and Action Center, shows New Jersey improved its national ranking from 23rd in 2014-15 to 19th in 2015-16…”

Baby Box Program – New Jersey

Baby in a box? Free cardboard bassinets encourage safe sleeping, By Lisa W. Foderaro, February 12, 2017, New York Times: “Jernica Quiñones, a mother of five, was the first parent in New Jersey to get her free baby box — a portable, low-tech bassinet made of laminated cardboard. But first, she had to take an online course about safe sleeping practices, which experts say can sharply reduce the chances of sudden infant death syndrome.  ‘Basically, you want to have the baby on the mattress, and that’s it,’ she said after watching a 20-minute series of videos.  The message may not be new. But health officials say it is critical to keeping babies safe. To reduce infant mortality, parents must put babies to sleep on their backs on a firm mattress in either a bassinet or a crib — with no pillow, blanket, stuffed animal or bumpers.  Now, New Jersey has become the first state to adopt a broad program to reduce infant deaths by aiming to distribute as many as 105,000 of the so-called baby boxes — the expected number of births in the state this year…”

Child Poverty and Health

Study shows poor children face higher rates of asthma and ADHD, By David Templeton, February 13, 2017, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Poverty takes a toll on human health and especially on children.   The American Academy of Pediatrics and Britain’s Child Poverty Action Group, among various groups and scientific studies, long have documented the higher risk of illness, chronic disease and disability among impoverished children, along with lower birth weights and an average life expectancy nearly a decade shorter than children from affluent families.  Now add asthma and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder to the long list of physical and mental maladies, along with attendant conditions known as ‘comorbidities.’   These are the key findings of a Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC study published today in Pediatrics…”

Lead Poisoning in Children – Indiana

Indiana bill aims to increase lead testing for children in low-income families, By Ted Booker, February 9, 2017, South Bend Tribune: “Only a small fraction of Indiana’s children in low-income families are tested for lead poisoning, but a proposed state bill aims to change that.  Senate Bill 491 — co-authored by Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, and Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend — calls for doubling the number of Medicaid-eligible children tested statewide for the toxic metal, which can cause permanent damage to kids’ developing brains and organs…”

Child Welfare System – Idaho

Study: Idaho’s child welfare system overwhelmed, overworked, By Associated Press and Samantha Wright, February 8, 2017, Boise State Public Radio: “State auditors say Idaho’s child welfare system is overwhelmed, with too few foster parents, too heavy caseloads for social workers and not enough infrastructure to hold it all together.  The study from the Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluations found that the number of foster parents has decreased by 8 percent since 2014, while social workers are dealing with 28 to 38 percent more cases than they can reasonably handle…”

Foster Care – Kentucky

Court: Kentucky must pay relatives who take in foster kids, By Deborah Yetter, February 1, 2017, Courier-Journal: “A federal appeals court has ruled Kentucky must pay relatives who serve as foster parents in the same manner it pays adults who are licensed as foster parents and paid a daily rate.  Friday’s ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals could prove a budget blow to the state’s human services agency, already straining to care for a growing number of children removed from homes because of abuse or neglect…”

Foster Care Program – North Carolina

State law extends foster-care benefits, By Kate Elizabeth Queram, January 25, 2017, News & Record: “A recent change in state law allows children to stay in foster care through the age of 21, a safety net that advocates say can help children continue their education and decrease their likelihood of entering the criminal justice system.  The change, known as the Foster Care 18-to-21 initiative, was passed by the General Assembly in 2015 but did not go into effect until Jan. 1. The legislation tweaks several aspects of the state’s previous foster-care policy, under which children automatically aged out of the system at age 18…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Scott Walker: Parents should work 80 hours per month to get food stamps, By Molly Beck, January 24, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Gov. Scott Walker wants parents who receive food stamps to work at least 80 hours per month to continue to receive full benefits.  Walker made the announcement Monday in appearances around the state promoting changes dubbed ‘Wisconsin Works for Everyone’ that he plans to make to the state’s welfare programs.  One component would require parents with school-age children living at home to work to continue to receive full benefits through the state’s food stamp program known as FoodShare…”

Children of Incarcerated Parents

How mass incarceration pushes black children further behind in school, By Melinda D. Anderson, January 16, 2017, The Atlantic: “In the summer of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the closing remarks at the March on Washington. More than 200,000 people gathered to cast a national spotlight on and mobilize resistance to Jim Crow, racist laws and policies that disenfranchised black Americans and mandated segregated housing, schools, and employment. Today, more than 50 years later, remnants of Jim Crow segregation persist in the form of mass incarceration—the imprisonment of millions of Americans, overwhelmingly and disproportionately black adults, in local, state, and federal prisons…”

Foster Care Programs – Florida, Minnesota

  • Florida child welfare system under-performing for foster kids, study finds, By Christopher O’Donnell, January 20, 2017, Tampa Bay Times: “A federal agency has given the Florida Department of Children and Families 90 days to come up with a plan to improve its care of foster kids after a study found the state is underperforming in critical areas…”
  • State pledges $400,000 to shrink number of Indian children in foster care, By Brandon Stahl, January 20, 2017, Star Tribune: “With the number of American Indian children in Minnesota foster care reaching ‘unacceptable’ levels, the state pledged Thursday to spend $400,000 over the next three years to reduce those numbers. The announcement comes after a two-part Star Tribune series last summer found that Minnesota has more American Indian children in foster care than any other state, including those with significantly larger Indian populations…”

Housing Subsidies – Baltimore, MD

Housing program used to break up high-poverty areas in Baltimore to stop taking applicants, By Yvonne Wenger, January 12, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “The officials who run a court-ordered program that helps families move from Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods to areas with low crime and high-performing schools are planning to stop taking new applicants.  Hundreds of people sign up each month for the rental subsidies and counseling, which are offered as a condition of a landmark federal fair-housing lawsuit in Baltimore…”

Kids Count Report – New Mexico

  • Kids Count report is a mixed bag for New Mexico, By Rick Nathanson, January 17, 2016, Albuquerque Journal: “The annual New Mexico Kids Count Data Book released Tuesday shows the most improvement in measures of children’s health, but little improvement in measures of family economic well-being.  The data book, a project of New Mexico Voices for Children, showed declines in the rate of babies with low birth weight, in children without health insurance, and in teens abusing alcohol and drugs. The teen birth rate has also declined, following a similar national trend…”
  • Despite upticks, N.M. still tough for kids, By Robert Nott, January 17, 2017, Santa Fe New Mexican: “Nearly all New Mexico children have health care insurance, and sharply fewer of the state’s teenagers are abusing drugs and alcohol, a new report says. Overall, however, New Mexico remains a tough place for kids…”

Poverty and Child Development

The toll poverty takes on children’s mental health, By Mary Elizabeth Dallas, January 10, 2017, CBS News: “Growing up in poverty exposes children to greater levels of stress, which can lead to psychological problems later in life, a new study suggests.  Researchers at Cornell University reported that kids who grow up poor are more likely to have reduced short-term spatial memory. The study also reported that such kids seem to be more prone to antisocial and aggressive behavior, such as bullying.  Poor children are also more likely than kids from middle-income homes to feel powerless, the study authors suggested…”

Kids Count Report – Florida

  • Kids Count report: Many area children living in poverty, By Liz Freeman, January 8, 2017, News-Press: “Children in Southwest Florida are falling behind compared to the health and well-being of children around the state, a report released today shows. More children in Collier and Lee counties live in poverty and rely on food stamps, are uninsured and overweight, and have gone through maltreatment dispositions compared to their counterparts statewide, according to a Florida Kids Count report…”
  • Report highlights racial disparities among Jacksonville’s children in poverty, By Tessa Duvall, January 9, 2017, Florida Times-Union: “A report that looks at children’s quality of life in Florida paints a bleak economic picture for Duval County’s black children.  Florida Kids Count, released Monday, shows that black children represent a much larger percentage of poor children than their white and Hispanic peers…”

Child Care Subsidies – California

For some workers, pay raise comes with loss of cheap child care, By Natalie Kitroeff, January 6, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “When the minimum wage in California rose to $10.50 an hour Jan. 1, more than a million people got a raise. But for an untold number of families across the state, that pay bump could price them out of child care.  This year, for the first time, two parents working full time at minimum wage jobs, with one child, will be considered too well off to qualify for state subsidies for day care and preschool. It’s been 10 years since the state set the threshold for who is poor enough to get the benefit, which is pegged to 2005 income levels…”

Star Tribune Series on Poverty

  • Taking risks to pursue the American dream, By Adam Belz, December 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “Ethrophic Burnett escaped the South Side of Chicago, moved to Minneapolis ‘to have a life for my kids’ — and wound up in a social experiment.  In the late 1990s, when the oldest of her children were just in elementary school, her family was one of hundreds that was moved to the Twin Cities suburbs as the result of a federal fair housing lawsuit. Her children thrived, she said. They developed new ambitions that otherwise might have seemed distant.  Then, three years ago, as her oldest daughter entered college, Burnett lost eligibility for the home she was living in and moved the family back to the poorest area of Minneapolis…”
  • Prosperity grows out of small-town America, By Adam Belz, December 29, 2016, Star Tribune: “Sylvia Hilgeman grew up no-frills on a farm in Red Lake County in northwest Minnesota, where flat fields are broken by steel grain bins, stands of aspen and abandoned farmhouses.  Her dad cultivated rented land and her mom raised cattle and milked cows at a neighboring farm to help pay the bills. They raised their children in a double-wide mobile home across a gravel driveway from her great-uncle’s homestead. ‘My parents, they worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met,’ Hilgeman said. The work paid off for their children. Sylvia went to college, got a job in accounting and later joined the FBI. Today, she investigates white collar crime in New York City…”
  • Poor forced to make extreme choices as affordable homes erode, By Adam Belz, December 30, 2016, Star Tribune: “Kendrick Bates fought his way out of poverty to within two semesters of a bachelor’s degree. Now he needs an apartment. He’s been accepted at a college in suburban Roseville, but he hasn’t been able to find a home in a good neighborhood that he can afford. Bates, who now lives near the southern Minnesota town of New Ulm with his two daughters, grew up in poverty in Mississippi and is wary of the trade-offs of urban life. He is looking beyond the metro area and likes Stillwater, Hudson and New Richmond in Wisconsin…”

Child Care Subsidies – Maryland

Wealthy Maryland is poor in child-care subsidies, By Josh Hicks, December 22, 2016, Washington Post: “A group of Maryland lawmakers is pushing Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and the General Assembly to increase financial assistance for families struggling to cover child-care costs, noting that the state ranks among the least generous in the nation for such aid.  Advocates say state and federal funding levels for child-care subsidies are too low, forcing Maryland to restrict how many low-income families qualify for vouchers and greatly limiting which day-care centers those families can afford.  Adding to the financial pressure are new federal regulations that say states must subsidize child care at rates that allow parents to enroll their children in higher-priced programs, rather than only the cheapest…”

Parent-Child Home Program – Seattle, WA

Teaching parents how to teach their toddlers: Seattle-area program yields lasting benefits, By Neal Morton, December 21, 2016, Seattle Times: “Nearly a decade before Seattle voters agreed in 2014 to subsidize a preschool program for the city’s families, a small, pilot effort for even younger children debuted in 106 living rooms across King County. Organizers approached parents with a simple sales pitch: Did they want help preparing their children for school? If so, the Parent-Child Home Program would send trained visitors to spend 30 minutes with them twice a week, demonstrating how to get the most educational value out of playing and reading with their 2- and 3-year-olds.  The visitors brought a book and a toy to use in each visit, which the families kept for free.  The hope was that these short, frequent sessions, spread over two years, would keep many poor children from falling far behind richer peers before they even started kindergarten…”

Kalamazoo Promise Program

Did free college save this city?, By Simon Montlake, December 17, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Tracy Zarei has wanted to teach children ever since she was in the second grade. She knew she would have to go to college to become a teacher.  ‘She was a straight-A student,’ says her mother, Sheri, who was working double shifts in a nursing home to pay rent on their mobile home. ‘She cried when she got her first B.’  Then one day Tracy’s world shifted. When her mother returned home from work, Tracy handed her a note. ‘She said, ‘Mom, you’re going to be disappointed,’ ‘ recalls Sheri, who thought it must be a traffic ticket. Instead it was a positive pregnancy test. Antonio Jr. was born in March 2005. Tracy was a junior in high school.  For many teenage mothers, this is when school ends and hardship begins. By age 22, only half of all single mothers in the United States receive a high school diploma, compared with 90 percent of their peers…”