Monthly Archives: February 2012
|February 27, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Education, Policy||
Well into its fifth decade of operation, Head Start provides early childhood education opportunities for preschool age children from low-income families as well as early intervention for infants, toddlers and expectant mothers in communities across the nation. A recent policy brief from CLASP, Putting Children and Families First – Head Start Programs in 2010, examines program data to ascertain the impact of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) fund on the program as well as discuss program trends from the late 1990’s through 2010.
Report highlights include:
- In 2010, of the more than 1.1 million children served by Head Start, 86 percent were between the ages of 3-5; and 14 percent birth through age 2 were served through the Early Head start program.
- In 2010, 40 percent of Head Starts participants were white, 29 percent African American, 8 percent reported themselves biracial or multiracial, 4 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, 2 percent Asian and 1 percent Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Eleven percent reported their race as “other. ” Thirty-six percent of all participants reported being of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.
- In 2010, over half of the families involved in Head Start (57 percent) were headed by a single parent. In nearly ¾ of Head Start families (72 percent), neither parent had achieved an education level above a high school degree or general equivalency degree (GED).
- In 2010, 12 percent of Head Start children were diagnosed as having a disability.
- In 2010, 76 percent of Head Start teachers had an associate degree or higher, an increase from the 51 percent in 2002.
The brief contains additional data on program services and families, as well as comparisons of data points over the past decade. CLASP also has a new data tool to assist decision makers and policy wonks with assessing their state’s needs around early childhood education. The tool is accessible through the CLASP website resource center.
|February 22, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Policy, Youth Development||
Continuing with the incarceration theme…
The number of children with at least one parent in prison increased dramatically in the last decade and a half. While there are many unknowns as to the extent of this occurrence – especially among youth in foster care – a brief from the National Conference of State Legislatures, reports over 1.7 million children had a parent incarcerated within a state or federal prison in 2007. Further, between 1991 and 2007, the number of children with a father in prison increased by 77 percent while the number of children with a mother in prison increased by 131 percent.
In Pennsylvania, this growing problem caught the attention of policymakers, as resolutions in 2009 ordered the Joint State Government Commission to study the impact of parental incarceration on children, including the development of needs assessments, the identification of interventions and exploration of the nature of any barriers to services. The committee made a number of recommendations, including:
- training for criminal justice professionals on the numerous issues faced by children with parents in the justice system (from arrest through parole);
- cross-training for leaders in the educational, legal, health and social service systems who have contact with youth who have incarcerated parents about impact of incarceration on children and families and to review methods to improving cross-system coordination;
- establishment of subsidized guardianship programs for kin of incarcerated persons with children where the removal of parental rights is not required;
- improvement of both the efficiency and the cost of visiting and communications policies and practices , including making them more comfortable for children;
- the addition of programming for inmates and their families to encourage reunification, improve stability during re-entry planning and to reduce recidivism; and
- more and better data collection, data sharing and cross system collaboration around incarcerated parents and their children.
The 2011 report, The Effects of Parental Incarceration on Children: Needs and Responsive Services Report of the Advisory Committee Pursuant to House Resolution 203 and Senate Resolution 52 of 2009 is available online in PDF format. Also, another helpful resource for professionals working with children of incarcerated parents is the guide, When a Parent Is Incarcerated: A Primer for Social Workers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
|February 20, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Budget, News||
Since it is budget time again in the Commonwealth, I wanted to post about an interesting fiscal analysis of correctional institutions that I came across recently. The Vera Institute of Justice and the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project collaborated to identify the true financial cost of state prisons to tax payers, not just that included departmental budgets. The 2012 report, Price of Prisons What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers by Christian Henrichson and Ruth Delaney, details their findings on the distribution of prison costs across various agencies and the true cost to taxpayers.
The researchers developed a methodology to capture three kinds of costs, administrative, inmate services (paid for from outside funding streams) and pension and retiree health care plans. They also identified numerous costs that fell outside of corrections budgets yet fell to the taxpayer, concluding that prisons cost taxpayers about 14 percent more than the expenditures listed in the annual budgets represent.
The study lists Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections as spending over 1 and a half billion dollars in the 2010 prison budget, with an additional $463.8 million (over 22.5 percent) in related costs outside the corrections budget. A breakdown of the 2010 budget (and not-in-the-budget) expenditure data from the 40 states that participated in the study is also available online via the Vera Institute of Justice website.