|May 19, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Drug and Alcohol, Youth Development|
Data from a new TEDS report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration examines the differences between pregnant and non-pregnant teenagers admitted to substance abuse treatment. What may be of interest to providers and policymakers are the differences between the groups, and how those characteristics could inform prevention programming and public health campaigns.
Findings from the May 2013 brief, The TEDS Report: Characteristics of Pregnant Teen Substance Abuse Treatment, include -
- The majority of referrals of pregnant teenagers using alcohol or drugs were from the justice system (41.4 percent) and community agencies (23 percent), both higher than among non-pregnant female teens admitted in the same time period.
- Among pregnant teenage users, self-referrals to treatment were lower than among their non-pregnant peers (18.5 percent versus 22.9 percent). Also, schools were less likely to refer pregnant students (4.5 percent compared to 10 percent) to treatment.
- Pregnant teens more likely to report methamphetamine or amphetamine use than non-pregnant peers (16.9 percent versus 8.4 percent) at the time of admission.
- Poverty, as measured by public assistance as main source of income and use of Medicaid as the primary payor, was higher among pregnant teenagers.
The series of TEDS reports are available at the SAMHSA website.
|May 11, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Budget, Education, Youth Development|
A report from the Afterschool Alliance highlights another example of programs experiencing decreased funding and increased demand. This challenge, already felt by mental health providers and food banks, is also affecting afterschool and summer programs. Uncertain Times 2012: Afterschool Programs Still Struggling in Today’s Economy discusses the results of a study examining the impact of the economy on afterschool programs for youth, noting that although they provide a popular and worthy service, their budgets continue to dwindle.
The study found that programs in urban, suburban and rural areas are all struggling with less funding and increased demand for their services. Additional findings include,
- Nearly 40 percent of programs surveyed reported budgets that are “in worse shape” currently than in the midst of the recession four years ago. Specifically, 68 percent of programs serving a mostly African-American population and 65 percent of those serving a mostly Latino population reported diminished funds compared to three years ago.
- Over half of the programs (58 percent) reported being at or above maximum capacity with 36 percent maintained a waiting list. Demand for afterschool programs serving African-American and Latino children was reported to be even higher. Among programs serving primarily African-American youth, 65 percent were at or above maximum capacity, and 41 percent had a waiting list. Among those serving primarily Latino children, 70 percent were at or above maximum capacity and 48 percent had a waiting list.
The Pittsburgh Project, a nonprofit community development organization on Pittsburgh’s North Side, is featured in this report as an example of the real-world impact of economic conditions on a local program. Since the economic downturn, the Pittsburgh Project has experienced a 40 percent decrease in their budget resulting in staff layoffs, reduced hours, fewer children served and the elimination of many program activities.
|April 29, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Management, Research|
A case study on the return on investment of emotional intelligence on productivity and work environment found a predictive relationship between emotional quotient (EQ) scores and individual performance. Amadori, a European meat supplier, embarked on an initiative with Six Seconds focused on improved management and staff development through an overhaul of the organization’s leadership style. The study showed that managers who scored in the top 25 percent in EQ also scored higher in individual performance (47 percent of the variation could be explained by EQ) and that the sites with high EQ executives also had higher levels of employee engagement. As employee engagement was predictive of performance outcomes including motivation, retention and productivity, the factory sites with managers skilled in emotional intelligence experienced better organizational performance.
The adage claims that leaders are born not made, but the literature on the usefulness of emotional intelligence in business and its inclusion in leadership development materials, plus performance results like those in the study above, illustrate how even “born” leaders must be developed. Good leadership can be taught in the form of theories and tools but – as other bloggers have wondered – whether it can be learned effectively is another matter entirely.
A while ago I observed a project debriefing that was one of the most tense and awkward sessions I had ever experienced. The team delivered a successful end product and yet the tone of the meeting was anything but positive. On the surface, the group assembled appeared to be a healthy, functioning team, but cracks began to show as the session continued with member affect ranging from mildly detached to downright apathetic. The facilitator-coaxed feedback was not acknowledged by those who needed to hear it most, rather much of it was dismissed and those brave enough to allude to issues that could have been handled better were chided as unprofessional. I later heard that several members of that department had left the organization of their own accord.
Was it a low EQ, poor leadership development, or maybe just sheer stubbornness that kept the leader from acknowledging the team that day? A little empathy and a modicum of self-awareness could have gone a long way in healing a fractured team that, despite internal conflicts, had succeeded. In the end it was the organization that really lost – both in talent and in the time spent replacing and training a new team. With all the talk about servant leadership and emotional intelligence, even in nonprofits who consider themselves more people-than-profit-driven, are apologies viewed as surrender? Do we secretly fear that empathy equals “doormat”?
Leadership is tricky. My first foray into it, on the smallest scale in the most benign of conditions, was a spectacular failure. For years after that experience, I successfully evaded any opportunity that even hinted of “leading” outside of my favorite type of project – the one person kind. I was not a leader, I pshawed – nope, never would be either, that mantle was for others far grander, smarter and more charismatic than I. It was a safe little pigeonhole to hunker down in, and I did so for years until circumstances demanded change. My ongoing path from pigeonhole dweller to “follow me” has been a spiral not a steady ascent, and would not have happened without the people I met along the way who were (and still are) exceptional leaders. Some simply made an impression, others became mentors if not outright catalysts for transformation, and at the risk of heading completely into tweeness, I have to admit that I learned more from being a part of their teams than I ever could have hoped for at the time.
Leaders can be made. Or perhaps, as with Dorothy, we had the power all along, we just need the right tools, lessons, and people to help give it shape, focus and flight.
|April 19, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Health, Research||
A research study on youth-focused marketing in and around fast food eateries has concluded that such advertisement is most prevalent in middle-income and Black neighborhoods.
While fast food consumption among adults and caloric consumption among children have both declined, the study found 22 percent of fast food restaurants engaged in direct marketing to youth, most often in Black communities (31 percent) and mid-level-income areas (30 percent), followed by near-low-income areas, and White and Latino neighborhoods (all at 24 percent). Of the eateries that aimed indoor and outdoor ads at children, 38 percent offered “kids meals”. Other marketing findings and the larger implications for health policy are included in the December 2012 brief, Child-Directed Marketing Within and Around Fast Food Restaurants, available online at the Bridging the Gap website.
Businesses must market to their target audiences in order to be successful, but awareness of the prevalence and nature of such messaging to youth can encourage family discussions about the impact of too much unhealthy eating, and setting limits for trips to fast food restaurants.
Report Citation: Ohri-Vachaspati P, Powell LM, Rimkus LM, Isgor Z, Barker D and Chaloupka FJ. Child-Directed Marketing Within and Around FastFood Restaurants—ABTG Research Brief. Chicago, IL: Bridging the Gap Program, Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2012.
|April 9, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Drug and Alcohol, Policy, Program Model, Youth Development||
The impact of parental substance abuse on children’s stability and well-being is a concern that crosses systems. Data suggests that parental drug and alcohol use is related to abuse and neglect and increases the likelihood of a parent’s involvement in the justice system – including the possibility of incarceration. The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) provides In-Depth Technical Assistance (IDTA) to a handful of sites across the country in the areas of substance abuse, child welfare and the courts to result in better outcomes for families involved in these systems. For approximately 18 months, the IDTA team works with local, state or tribal entities to coordinate strategy and services across systems through the use of evidence-based programs and on-site technical assistance in order to grow capacity for improved child and family outcomes.
The report, In-Depth Technical Assistance (IDTA) Final Report 2007-2012 provides an overview of the IDTA program model, related site accomplishments, and the lessons of system change at various levels. Some findings include,
- 50 percent of the sites implemented (or enhanced) a recovery specialist model in their programs;
- 68 percent developed and/or implemented cross-system training plans;
- 60 percent developed and/or implemented screening protocols that resulted in lowers costs, reduced redundancy and a more efficient referral process;
- 27 percent used cross-system data collection and tracking processes, such as case reviews and drop-off analysis, to inform policy and program decisions. (Note: according to the SAMHSA website, a Drop-Off Analysis is “a method used to assess linkages among child welfare, treatment agencies and courts. The method helps to identify connections that families need to make between systems to obtain services and achieve their child welfare case goals.”)
In addition to program findings, the brief discusses numerous lessons learned around systems change, particularly: issues in achieving long-term policy and practice changes and avoiding the fracture of collaborative relationships post-project, leadership focused on engaging and sustaining partners, use of data to identify areas of and opportunities for change, and realistic timelines for implementing system change and shared accountability.
|April 2, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, Children and Family, Juvenile Delinquency, Research, Youth Development||
For over a decade The Urban Institute has tracked the long term impacts for families relocated by the Chicago Housing Authority to make way for their removal of public housing complexes throughout the city. The relocated residents report better housing and neighborhood quality since the move. For youth however, the improved living environment does not appear to have had a transformative effect on their lives.
According to the brief, Chronic Violence: Beyond the Developments, follow-up data from 2011 indicate that children in the new housing (voucher-enabled private rentals or refurbished public housing) were not attending higher quality schools and were still living in neighborhoods with nearly half of the residents below the poverty line. Parental reports of negative behavior and delinquent activity were similar to the baseline data of youth in the public housing complexes. In addition, academic performance remained a concern, with approximately 33 percent of the teenagers not in the appropriate grade for their age and about 66 percent unengaged in school or work activities.
Authors Chantal Hailey and Megan Gallagher discuss the presence and patterns of neighborhood violence as a continuing factor risk factor in the lives of these families, even after relocation, specifically the impact it has upon youth in the form of continued exposure to trauma, a nomadic lifestyle, and avoidance or isolation. The researchers at The Urban Institute recommend intensive case management services for the relocated families in Chicago, with the hope that such intervention would improve future outcomes.
The impact of neighborhood violence on youth can be devastating, both in perceived and actual threats of physical harm, the psychological toll of anxiety, and the impact of traumatic events on a child’s development. It should be noted that research identified similar problems for youth in “rough” neighborhoods from a sample that included families above the poverty line. Addressing the long-lasting impacts of community violence in a meaningful manner is challenging as both the context of the violence witnessed and gender differences in coping techniques may lessen responsiveness to standardized interventions “proven” in another city. The mixed perception of the outside “experts” (school officials, teachers, social workers, counselors, police, etc.) by community members may also serve as a obstacle in forming a partnership to reduce youth and adult violence. There is not a single policy nor intervention that will be able to neutralize or remove every risk factor, but based on the results of various initiatives across the country, a combination of behavioral interventions and police strategies may prove effective going forward.