Top 7 Reports from June 2012: Children and Families
For the first time since 2008, when First Focus began analyzing the federal budget impact on children, discretionary spending on children has declined for two consecutive years. First Focus finds that money Congress allocates for children is now less than 8 percent of the federal budget.
A new federal analysis from the U.S. Treasury and Department of Education confirms that higher education is critical for socioeconomic advancement and an important driver of economic mobility. It further finds that a well-educated workforce is vital to our nation’s future economic growth and competitiveness. Even so, as state budgets have come under stress, state support for higher education has declined as a share of funding for public higher education. Hence, students and their families depend increasingly on educational grants and affordable loans through Federal financial aid.
State-funded support services for students who fail the California High School Exit Exam in grade 10 have helped only a small percentage of students pass the test and obtain their diplomas, according to a report by the Public Policy Institute of California. The report finds that tutoring provided under one measure has not helped students pass the exam. Two other interventions studied helped students to a limited extent. Taken together, these interventions helped only 1.5 to 3 percent of students pass both sections of the exam.
Though children in immigrant families are tracking fairly evenly with children of U.S.-born parents when it comes to parental employment, and even better in terms of parental presence in the home and early health indicators, many of these children are still facing a lifetime of hardship as a result of poverty, lack of access to health insurance and limited educational achievement. This new report by the Foundation for Child Development is the first to provide a detailed assessment of the quality of life of the one in four children in the U.S. who are sons and daughters of immigrants.
In 1960, average expenditures on a mild in a middle-income husband-wife family amounted to $25,229 – or $191,723 in 2011 dollars. By the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture study, these estimates expenditures climbed 23 percent in real terms to $234,900 (assuming a family had child care and education expenses for a child). Housing was the largest expense on a child in both time periods. Food was also one of the largest expenses in both time periods although it decreased in real terms. Changes in agriculture over the past 50 yeas have resulted in family food budgets being a lower percentage of household income. Transportation expenses on a child increased slightly in real terms from 1960 to 2011.
Adolescence is a time of life that’s both exhilarating and daunting. It can be fraught with excitement and disappointment, self-confidence and insecurity, camaraderie and loneliness. But how does that all play out? A new report by Common Sense Media asks teens, ages 13 to 17, about their social media experiences, where they go, what they post and what they do – and the answers emerge with surprising clarity.
Paid family leave provides a wealth of benefits for working parents, enhancing their abilities to do their best at work and raising their kids. Yet, one part of the public debate over leave policies gets less attention, the focus on the child and health outcome of flexibility afforded parents. This new policy paper from the National Center for Children in Poverty examines the effects of maternal employment and parents, leave policies on child health, child cognitive and emotional development, maternal health and the health of parental relationships. Altogether, it makes a strong case for paid family leave as a benefit to families – and the country.