Category: Youth Development
|August 31, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Education, Federal Government, Health, Policy, Youth Development||
Over the summer I came across a couple of briefs from Bridging the Gap that I thought might be appropriate to post once the yellow buses started rolling again. One report summarizes research on the changes in the federal lunch program, the other discusses policies on recess.
Although an initial government study found the much debated new nutritional regulations resulted in a decrease in participation in the school lunch program, waste of food, price increases and menu planning challenges between 2010-11 and 2012-13, student opinion of lunches may not be as negative as previously thought. According to the brief, Student Reactions During the First Year of Updated School Lunch Nutrition Standards, data on administrator perception of student opinion of the new meals concluded that while middle and high school students did voice their displeasure about the new lunches (44 and 53 percent, respectively), by the end of the year they were liked “to at least some extent” by students (70 and 63 percent). Other findings,
- Among elementary schools, more students complained about the meals in the spring of 2014 than at the beginning of the school year (56 percent versus 64 percent), but 70 percent of those surveyed reported that students generally liked the new lunches.
- Rural schools reported more student complaints about school lunches than urban schools.
- Rural schools reported increases in waste (students throwing away food) more than urban schools.
While school lunches are one way to attempt to impact student health and wellness, there has not been as much policy activity around the inclusion of recess time for elementary-school-age students. Less than half of the school districts in the country have a recommended or required policy regarding daily recess, and just 13 states recommend or mandate recess as part of the daily schedule in elementary schools. The CDC/Bridging the Gap brief, Strategies for Supporting Recess in Elementary Schools, discusses evidence-based approaches for encouraging physical activity such as recess, including
- training and technical assistance from states to districts on student health and wellness,
- upgrades to or maintenance of existing playground and sports equipment, and
- daily recess as well as scheduled physical education class in elementary schools.
More information on the importance of recess in child development (including academic achievement) is available at the website for the US Play Coalition: A Partnership to promote the Value of Play throughout Life at the Clemson University School of Health, Education and Human Development, including the white paper A Research-based Case for Recess.
Terry-McElrath YM, Turner L, Colabianchi N, O’Malley PM, Chaloupka FJ, Johnston LD. Student Reactions during the First Year of Updated School Lunch Nutrition Standards— A BTG Research Brief. Ann Arbor, MI: Bridging the Gap Program, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan; 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Bridging the Gap Research Program. Strategies For Supporting Quality Physical Education and Physical Activity in Schools.Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.
|May 31, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Education, Youth Development||
Motivational sound bites like “Dream it, do it” and “No excuses” are more appropriate on the wall of a fitness club then as explanations of the character traits lacking in those who appear to just give up. It is understandable that there isn’t much sympathy for youth who leave school, after all it is by their own choice, and one may wonder, how much more difficult is high school compared to the real world? Dropout rates have been trending downward for decades, (7 percent in 2011, down from 12 percent in 1990), but the negative outcomes associated with not finishing high school are severe, including a higher risk for health problems, the inability to compete for jobs, a higher likelihood of criminal activity, and life-long poverty. That list is not exactly an enticement to quit school.
To get a better understanding of why students leave high school, a national study was conducted by The Center for Promise at Tufts University. Based on interviews and surveys, the findings provide us with the personal stories behind absenteeism and/or class failure – considered the main predictors of dropping out along with behavioral problems. Some of the conclusions from the report, Don’t Call them Dropouts:
- There is not one factor that causes a student to stop attending school. It is almost always a “cluster” of situations and events, including homelessness, an incarcerated or ill parent, and a high rate of change regarding the child or family’s residence. These concerns often make school a lower priority.
- Make it easier to stay in school (or return) than to leave. School district policies and procedures may make dropping out the most logical, and certainly the easiest, choice.
- Support for students facing problems at home, and in some cases in negative or dangerous school environments is helpful, but the need for family, church and community members to step up to guide these youth through personal crises is critical. These young people display outstanding coping skills on a daily basis, but need assistance to persevere with longer-term goals such as returning to school.
Multimedia resources and the complete report – including findings and recommendations – are available at GradNation.org.
Photo Credit: M. Puzzanchera (Own Work) (CC By-NC-ND 3.0)
|May 16, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, Children and Family, Health, Research, Youth Development||
Between 2001 and 2011, over 2.2 million American service members were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although it is not unusual for military families to experience some stress when a loved one is deployed, studies have found that children with a deployed parent are at risk for higher levels anxiety, poorer academic performance, and drug and/or alcohol use than their peers. Now, research from the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research at the University of San Diego, in partnership with Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, indicates that children of returning wounded service members face additional challenges that may impact their development.
Through extensive interviews with wounded servicemen and women and their families, researchers identified several themes:
- Invisible wounds. Children with parents diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder along with their visible wounds reported increased anger and an overall lack of understanding of the changes in their parent. Youth tended to adapt quicker to tangible wounds and the special care they required.
- Losing both parents. Attention was diverted from children in the family to the newly returned wounded parent, with older children taking on the adult role of providing emotional support and care to siblings and/or the non-injured parent.
- Too much or too little information. Lack of communication with children around the reality of the returning parent’s injuries caused distress. For adults, ill-timed “information dumps” on resources/programs that occurred too early in the reunification process were overwhelming and often not helpful.
- Isolation. Families transitioning from the military to a civilian community with a seriously wounded family member reported feeling isolated, cut off from those who might best understand their experience.
To better meet these needs, the study authors recommend the development or expansion of programs that help families build long term resiliency, as well as youth mentoring and peer-to-peer social support for children.
If you are interested in reading more about the challenges faced by wounded service members and their families, RAND has an exceptional series of reports and presentations from their Military Caregiver Study available at their website.
Report Citation: Schumann, M.J., Nash Cameron, E., Deitrick, L., Reed, G., and Doroliat, D. (2014). Study on Children of Seriously Wounded Service Members. San Diego, CA: Caster Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research, University of San Diego.
|April 30, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Health, Policy, Youth Development||
An April 2014 report from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) at School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota contains encouraging news on the impact of programs, such as Medicaid and CHIP, designed to reduce the number of uninsured children. Between the years of 2008 and 2012, the rate of uninsured children in the United States dropped from 9.7% to 7.5%, according to data reported in SHADAC’s State-Level Trends in Children’s Health Insurance Coverage. This national trend was mirrored in the 35 states that also reported significant declines in uninsured children during the same time period, with Oregon, Florida, Mississippi and Delaware experiencing the largest reductions. Additional findings at the national level:
- The percentage of privately insured low-and-middle-income children declined
- Hispanic children experienced the largest gains in insurance coverage, yet in 2012 remained the largest group of uninsured persons (12.7%) under age 18
- The gap between low-income and high-income children’s likelihood of insurance coverage is shrinking
In Pennsylvania, the rate of uninsured children declined from 6% in 2008 to 5% in 2012.
Report Citation: Sonier, J., Fried, B. 2014. “State-Level Trends in Childrens’ Health Insurance Coverage.” Minneapolis, MN: State Health Access Data Assistance Center.