Susie Cambria, MSW Public Policy Consultant

Public Policy Reads (12/09)
Latinos Online: Narrowing the Gap: This report from the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Internet and American Life Project has implications for local public policy, civic engagement, and educational success and attainment locally and nationally. The executive summary starts: From 2006 to 2008, internet use among Latino adults rose by 10 percentage points, from 54% to 64%. In comparison, the rates for whites rose four percentage points, and the rates for blacks rose only two percentage points during that time period. Though Latinos continue to lag behind whites, the gap in internet use has shrunk considerably. For Latinos, the increase in internet use has been fueled in large part among groups that have typically had very low rates of internet use. Read the report online: http://www.pewhispanic.org/files/reports/119.pdf .

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2008: This report is a joint effort by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Center for Education Statistics. It analyzes the most recent data on school crime and student safety including bullying, school conditions, weapons, accessibility of drugs and alcohol, and student perceptions of personal safety. The report relies on data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the School Survey on Crime and Safety, and the School and Staffing Survey. This is a must-read for those interested in student safety, public safety, public education, and student achievement. The report is online: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2009022 .

Rx for Hunger: Affordable Housing: This December 2009 report from Children's HealthWatch and the Medical-Legal Partnership | Boston finds that housing plays a significant role in protecting young children from food insecurity and the health risks of being seriously underweight. This new report confirms that increased support for subsidized housing must be part of the strategy for ending childhood hunger. Access online: http://www.childrenshealthwatch.org/page.php?id=206 . (Thanks to JCCF News Summary for December 15, 2009 for sharing this resource.)

CESAR Fax: The Fax is a one-page overview of a timely substance abuse trend or issue. These data sheets, produced by the University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), come out every Monday and are free. To read prior editions and/or to sign up for this valuable resource, go to http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/cesarfax.asp .

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Program Brief: Mental Health Research Findings: This report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of the Department of Health and Human Services is useful for those working with children and adults. The authors consider a number of studies related to mental health diagnosis and treatment in the United States and have this to say in the introduction: About one in four adults in the United States suffers from a mental disorder in a given year, with about 6 percent suffering from a serious mental illness. These problems typically take a toll on overall health. For example, patients diagnosed with a serious mental disorder die 25 years earlier than the general population. Related behavioral issues such as substance abuse or domestic violence also remain persistent problems. This is important given some of the findings: • Health care costs are significantly greater for women who were physically or sexually abused as children than for women who left childhood unscathed. • Children of women who are or have been abused by their partners seek more mental and other health care than children of nonabused mothers. • Young adults’ mental health problems are compounded by the number of barriers they face when accessing medical care. Read the report in HTML here (http://www.ahrq.gov/research/mentalhth.htm) and in PDF here (http://www.ahrq.gov/research/mentalhth.pdf).

Dads and Paternal Relatives: Expanding the Family Network: This brief from the American Humane Association considers the role of father involvement in their children’s lives. The issue brief pays particular attention to how FGDM can facilitate fathers’ engagement and the resulting benefit to children and families. Online in PDF: http://www.americanhumane.org/protecting-children/programs/family-group-decisionmaking/free-resources/issue-briefs.html .

Underperforming Schools and the Education of Vulnerable Children: This issue brief from Chapin Hall presents findings from several Chapin Hall studies on vulnerable children and youth to raise the issue of what it would mean to improve academic achievement in underperforming schools. Vulnerable children and youth are those who experience crises or disruptions in their lives, often accompanied by parental absence or inability to meet their needs, such that they are likely to become involved with public systems. The brief provides evidence that a disproportionate number of these children attend underperforming schools. It describes the impact of disruptive, and often traumatic, life experiences on the behavior and learning of children, the schools’ frequent response of placing these children in special education, and the students’ poor educational outcomes in high school. The authors of the brief take the perspective that the lives of these children and the performance of their schools are intertwined. They propose that innovative efforts to improve underperforming schools must be coupled with a focus on developing effective ways for teachers and schools leaders to work with vulnerable children and youth. (Description taken in entirety from http://www.chapinhall.org/research/brief/underperforming-schoolsand-education-vulnerable-children .) The brief is online in PDF: http://www.chapinhall.org/research/brief/underperformingschools-and-education-vulnerable-children . (Thanks to JCCF News Summary for November 24, 2009 for sharing this resource.)

Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey: This Bulletin discusses the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), the most comprehensive nationwide survey of the incidence and prevalence of children's exposure to violence to date, sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Conducted between January and May 2008, it measured the past-year and lifetime exposure to violence for children age 17 and younger across several major categories: conventional crime, child maltreatment, victimization by peers and siblings, sexual victimization, witnessing and indirect victimization (including exposure to community violence and family violence), school violence and threats, and Internet victimization. (Description taken in entirety from http://www.safestartcenter.org/about/publications.php) The report is online: http://www.safestartcenter.org/about/publications.php .