Aging Out of Foster Care – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee advances tiny homes plan for young adults leaving foster care, By Mary Spicuzza, September 11, 2017,  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Three dozen ‘tiny homes’ would be built for — and with the help of — teens aging out of foster care, under a plan that advanced Monday at City Hall. As many as 36 tiny homes would be built near E. Capitol Drive and N. Humboldt Blvd. through a partnership with developer Gorman & Co., Pathfinders Milwaukee Inc. and the Milwaukee County Housing Division…”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Series on Childhood Trauma

From generation to generation, By John Schmid, March 23, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “When Joseph and Eva Rogers moved to Milwaukee from Arkansas in 1969, there was no better city for African-American workers to find employment. Neither had made it past grade school, but Joe found a job on the bottle line at Graf Beverages, known for root beer, and Eva worked at a rag factory. They were part of what turned out to be the last chapter of the Great Migration, in which 6 million Southern laborers moved north for a better life, and reshaped the nation.  Their daughter Belinda remembers the city at its industrial zenith. For the first time, she says, ‘I saw African-Americans owning homes and businesses.’ She married at 18 and had three children by age 22. Her Louisiana-born husband worked at A.O. Smith, the biggest employer in the city, with 10,000 workers in cathedral-sized factories welding the undercarriage of just about every American-made car. Then a global economic upheaval hit Milwaukee’s industrial core, and engine-makers, machine shops, tanneries, even heralded breweries shut down in rapid-fire succession…”

Early Childhood Education – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee Educare helps low-income preschoolers learn by connecting with parents, By Rachel Morello, April 12, 2017, Milwaukee Public Radio: “Close your eyes and picture a preschool classroom. What do you see? Chances are what you envision is probably pretty close to what you’ll find in an Educare classroom.  Educare is an early childhood program that targets children aged 6 weeks to 5 years, who come from low-income families. It’s an offshoot of Head Start, one of the most prominent, publicly-funded early childhood programs in the country…”

Milwaukee Public Radio Series on Segregation

Project Milwaukee: Segregation Matters, series homepage, Milwaukee Public Radio: “For years, the Milwaukee metro area has had a reputation as one of the most segregated in the United States.  How did this complex problem come about, and why does it endure? How does it contribute to persistent poverty? Are there ways to break through the boundaries..?”

Housing and Eviction – Milwaukee, WI

  • Tenants caught in legal tangle get evicted, By Cary Spivak, February 24, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Briana Shipp is caught in a legal whirlpool that won’t stop swirling. Shipp, a 29-year-old single mother, says in the past year she lost her home and possessions when she was evicted on the orders of Elijah Mohammad Rashaed, long one of Milwaukee’s most notorious central-city landlords. Her possessions, she said, were either thrown out or stolen when she was locked out of her house on N. 41st St.  The August eviction — which Shipp argues was illegal — stems from a bedazzling set of circumstances that left Shipp and a group of other Rashaed tenants unsure of whom to pay their rent. As a result, several ended up in eviction court, which has hampered their ability to find new places because many landlords won’t rent to people with evictions on their record…”
  • No title? No worry. LLC that no longer owns house files to evict Milwaukee family, By Cary Spivak, March 3, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The eviction suit filed against Jesse White last month stands out from the nearly 900 other evictions filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court last month. The difference: Kaja Holdings 2 LLC  — the company seeking to throw the 79-year-old man and his two teenage sons out — does not own the house on N. 26th St. where the family lives. The company lost title to the property on Oct. 31 in a tax foreclosure…”
  • Watchdog Report: Landlord Games, series homepage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With little consequence in the courts, Milwaukee landlords have learned how to play the system, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill…”

Teen Birthrate – Milwaukee, WI

City’s teen birthrate at historic low, By Crocker Stephenson, October 27, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Milwaukee’s birthrate for girls 15 to 17 years old continues to plunge, reaching a historic low in 2015, the Milwaukee Health Department plans to announce Friday.  The decrease was seen across all racial and ethnic groups, according to the department. The city’s teen birthrate has declined 65% since 2006, when one out of every 20 girls gave birth to a child…”

Infant Mortality – Milwaukee, WI

As racial gap widens, infant mortality rate goal virtually beyond reach, By Crocker Stephenson, June 14, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “African-American babies are dying in Milwaukee at a rate that is more than three times that of white babies, according to data released Tuesday by the Milwaukee Health Department. Approaching historic levels, it is the worst racial disparity in infant deaths that the city has seen in more than a decade.  And while the average infant mortality rate for both black and white babies decreased during the three-year period ending in 2015, it now appears all but impossible that the city will reach the goal it set in 2011 of reducing the black infant mortality rate 15% by 2017…”

Driver’s License Suspensions – Milwaukee, WI

Ticket to nowhere: The hidden cost of driver’s license suspensions, By Vivian Wang, August 15, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Just after midnight in May 2014, April Williams loaded groceries into her car at Woodman’s Food Market in Menomonee Falls and prepared to drive home. Before she even left the parking lot, a police officer pulled her over and wrote two tickets: one for a broken taillight, one for driving without insurance. She couldn’t pay the tickets — she had filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and was unemployed — but didn’t think much of it. In the weeks ahead, the single mother kept driving, keeping appointments for her children and meeting her case manager at a W-2 agency for help with her job search. In September she was pulled over again, this time for expired plates. She also got a ticket for a violation she never expected: operating while suspended…”

Infant Mortality – Milwaukee, WI

Preterm birth kills more Milwaukee babies than other causes combined, By Crocker Stephenson, May 5, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Preterm birth kills Milwaukee babies more readily than all the other causes of infant death combined, kills a disproportionate number of African-American babies, and each year across Wisconsin absorbs hundreds of millions of dollars that might otherwise be used to promote healthy birth outcomes. That has been the trend for years. According to preliminary data to be released Wednesday by the Milwaukee Health Department, 2014 was no different…”

Teen Birthrate – Milwaukee, WI

Teen birthrate in Milwaukee drops for 7th consecutive year, By Jesse Garza, October 29, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Pushed by another dramatic decline in the teen birthrate among Hispanic girls, Milwaukee’s overall birthrate among girls ages 15 to 17 dropped in 2013, for the seventh year in a row, preliminary data shows. The decline in the rate among non-Hispanic black teens, however, took an upturn during the year, along with a slight uptick among non-Hispanic white girls, according to the data compiled for the United Way of Greater Milwaukee’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. But it’s against the backdrop of another decline in the overall rate, and a 56% decrease in that rate between 2006 and 2013, that Mayor Tom Barrett and officials with the initiative have announced the ambitious goal of reducing the 2013 overall rate by another 50%, to 11.4, by 2023…”

African American Child Poverty – Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin’s black children remain trapped in poverty, study says, By Guy Boulton, September 10, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “African-American children still face dismal odds in Wisconsin. The state ranks last in the country in the overall well-being of African-American children based on an index of 12 measures that gauge a child’s success from birth to adulthood, according to a new report being released Wednesday by the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families. The measures, while not new, are bleak: Four out of every five African-American children in Wisconsin live in poor households, compared with roughly two out of three Latino children and three out of 10 white children…”
  • Damning disparities: Wisconsin is a great place for kids to grow up — unless they’re black, By Steven Elbow, September 10, 2014, Capital Times: “Last year’s ‘Race to Equity’ report set off an impassioned discussion about the vast disparities in the quality of life for African-Americans and whites. But that discussion was restricted to Dane County. Now the authors have issued a new report that they hope will take the discussion to the rest of Wisconsin. The report, drawing on data from across the country, shows that the state is dead last in providing for the well-being of its African-American kids…”

Poverty and Health

Interplay between poverty, health is complex, By Lillian Thomas, June 14, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Hundreds of plastic bins are stacked like jumbo shoe boxes, nearly scraping the ceiling of a bare-bones room in a former hospital. People sit nearby in rows of chairs, waiting to be matched with a pair of donated eyeglasses from the carefully labeled containers. It’s a slow process at City on a Hill, a nonprofit that runs a monthly free clinic on W. Kilbourn Ave. in Milwaukee. Many in the chairs look tired or anxious as they wait for their number to be called.Then John Patton Jr. shows up. He sprawls comfortably in his seat, throws his arms on the backs of the chairs next to him, and chats with those nearby. Then he focuses on the volunteer calling out numbers. . .”

Faith Communities Addressing Poverty

Milwaukee faith communities begin charting changes in fighting poverty, By Anyssa Johnson, June 4, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin’s faith communities are at the forefront of addressing the symptoms of poverty in the state. Food pantries, health clinics, housing initiatives — there is no shortage of faith-based programs aimed at serving what the Gospel of Matthew calls ‘the least of these.’ But people of faith have a moral obligation to change the social and political structures that are widening the gulf between the rich and poor and leaving large numbers of Wisconsinites — especially children — behind, faith leaders said Wednesday at a Milwaukee symposium on poverty. They began charting that change Wednesday . . .”

 

NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment

  • Big city schools making progress but still have far to go, report says, By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo and Amanda Paulson, December 18, 2013, Christian Science Monitor: “Public school students in some of America’s biggest cities have made significant long-term gains, according to the latest data released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often known as the Nation’s Report Card. Despite that progress, some subsets of students are still languishing at very low achievement levels. Wednesday’s report on the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) gives snapshots of reading and math achievement for fourth- and eighth-graders in 21 districts and comes 10 years after the first TUDA…”
  • Detroit Public Schools’ scores improve, but still at bottom on Nation’s Report Card; poverty a factor, By Chastity Pratt Dawsey, December 18, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “For the third time in a row, Detroit Public Schools scored the worst among urban school districts that participated in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), which released fourth- and eighth-graders’ reading and math scores today from the rigorous test known as the Nation’s Report Card. DPS posted the lowest scores among the 21 cities that voluntarily took part in the TUDA. DPS has participated since 2009, allowing its scores to be publicized. Other district scores are not made public…”
  • MPS shows slight gain in reading, math scores on national exam, By Erin Richards, December 18, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Milwaukee Public Schools students’ average reading and math scores on a national exam ticked up slightly in fourth and eighth grade between 2009 and 2013, according to a new report released Wednesday. But — and there always seems to be a ‘but’ — only the score change in eighth-grade math was statistically significant over those years. And compared with the performance of 20 other urban districts in 2013, MPS ranked in the bottom four for math and the bottom six for reading…”
  • Test-score gap widens between white, black students in Chicago, By Becky Schlikerman, December 18, 2013, Chicago Sun-Times: “The performance gap between Chicago’s black and white students — and between its poorest students and their wealthier classmates — continues to widen, newly released data show. Black Chicago Public Schools students fell further behind whites in three of four key measures, according to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the Nation’s Report Card…”

Teen Birthrate – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee teen birthrate drops 50% in 7 years after city efforts, By Karen Herzog, October 23, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Milwaukee’s teen birthrate has dropped by 50% over the past seven years — surpassing by three years and 4 percentage points a goal set by one of the most ambitious teen pregnancy prevention initiatives in the nation, city officials announced Wednesday. The 2012 teen birthrate marks a historic low for the city: 25.76 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 17, down 50% from seven years prior, when the rate was 52 births per 1,000 females in that age group. The initiative grew out of concerns that children born to teen mothers are more likely to become teen parents themselves and are more likely to drop out of school, tap into public assistance or go to jail. The city and a group of community partners set a goal in 2008 to reduce Milwaukee’s teen births by 46% over 10 years (2006-’15), to 30 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 17…”

Public Housing Waiting List – Milwaukee, WI

Waiting lists soar for public housing, rental assistance, By Georgia Pabst, August 10, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Jessica Johnson knew there would be a wait for Milwaukee public housing when she signed up in 2009, but she never dreamed it would take four years to make it to the top of the list. Now, she and her four children are preparing to move out of her father’s home and into a four-bedroom apartment at the Hillside Terrace public housing project on the city’s near north side…”

Child Welfare Systems

  • State making improvements, but too many children still abused, says group, By Megha Satyanarayana and Ann Zaniewski, March 20, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “While the state continues to make improvements in child welfare, too many children in foster homes are still being subject to abuse, a child advocacy group said in federal court today. The New York-based Children’s Rights and the Michigan Department of Human Services met in court for a periodic check of reforms mandated by a lawsuit filed in 2006 on behalf of the thousands of children in the state’s foster care system. A 2008 consent decree that called for a complete overhaul of the system was amended in 2011, and Wednesday’s hearing was a reflection of the first complete reporting period under the new agreement, January through June 2012…”
  • Abuse in Milwaukee child welfare system at historic low; stability problems persist, By Crocker Stephenson, March 22, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “While the percentage of children who suffered maltreatment while they were in the care of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare continued to hover at historic lows during 2012, too many children bounced from caregiver to caregiver and too many of the front-line workers responsible for their safety and stability left their jobs, according to a report released Friday…”

Teen Birthrate – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee’s teen birthrate drops for fifth year in row, By Karen Herzog, October 19, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Milwaukee’s teen birthrate – the second highest in the nation less than a decade ago – last year dropped for a fifth year in a row to a new historic low. The drop wasn’t as dramatic as those seen in 2009 and 2010, but the city remains on pace to reach a goal of reducing the teen birthrate to 30 per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 17 by 2015 – a goal set in 2007 by United Way of Greater Milwaukee, the Center for Urban Population Health and the Milwaukee Health Department. The latest data from the Health Department put the 2011 teen birthrate at 33.4 per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17. That’s down from 35.8 in 2010 and follows a succession of decreases – 41.3 per 1,000 teens in 2009; 46.7 in 2008; 47.1 in 2007; and 52 in 2006. The teen birthrate is declining nationally, but Milwaukee has seen a slightly more rapid drop in its rate…”

Infant Mortality Rates – Milwaukee, WI

Disparity in infant mortality rates in Milwaukee widens, By Crocker Stephenson and Karen Herzog, April 24, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Milwaukee’s infant mortality rate dropped to a historic low in 2011. But the rate at which black babies died during their first year of life ticked upward, to nearly three times the rate of white babies. ‘We’re pleased with the overall numbers,’ Mayor Tom Barrett said Tuesday. ‘But we have to put more emphasis on the African-American rate.’ In November, Barrett and Commissioner of Health Bevan Baker set a goal to reduce Milwaukee’s black infant mortality rate by 15% and the city’s overall rate by 10% by 2017. ‘We are on track to meet those goals,’ said Geoff Swain, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and chief medical officer for the Milwaukee Health Department…”

Public Program Overpayments – Wisconsin

Investigator finds overpayments in food-stamp system, By Jason Stein, January 15, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “In just two months, private investigators found nearly a half-million dollars in overpayments and cost savings in two state aid programs for the needy in Milwaukee County, with much more expected to be added up in the coming weeks. The findings of fraud in public food assistance and health care programs come after budget cuts left such investigations painfully neglected in many parts of the state, including Milwaukee County – the state’s largest urban area. For the past year, the Journal Sentinel has been reporting about fraud and other problems in the FoodShare program. The contractor looked at 111 suspicious cases in FoodShare and Medicaid health programs such as BadgerCare Plus and found overpayments in every case. So far, the total overpayments have been tallied up in only 62 of those cases, or just over half. But the total overpayments and future cost savings will likely come close to $1 million when it’s all added up, with most of that due to fraud, said Ed O’Brien, who heads the investigative firm O’Brien & Associates…”