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News and Information from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association

Child Welfare News

2010 Kids Count Data Book Now Available

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2010 Kids Count Data Book, overall improvements in child well-being that began in the late 1990s stalled in the years just before the current economic downturn. For example, more than 1 million more children were living in poverty in 2008 than in 2000. The full impact of the economic downturn on children and families will not be evident for years. The annual Data Book profiles the well-being of children on a state-by-state basis and ranks states on 10 measures of well-being. Visit the Data Center to review national and state profiles or to download or order the book at bit.ly/Kids_Count.

Recession Leads to Increase in Child Abuse

New research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics described the likely long-range consequences of the recession on the well-being of children. For every 1% increase in unemployment, researchers found an increase in child abuse reports of at least 0.5 per 1,000 children one year later. Unemployment in the US has risen from 4.5% in 2007 to 9.6% in October 2010. The findings of this study highlight the need to maintain services that protect children and help families during economic loss. Read the abstract of the study at bit.ly/recession_effects. Time magazine’s coverage of the story is available at bit.ly/Time_recession.

Statistics Show Past Decade’s Drop in Number of Children in Care, Increase in Adoptions

The US Children’s Bureau has released updated Adoption and Foster Care Reporting and Analysis System (AFCARS) statistics showing that the “snapshot” number of children in care on a given day—September 30—has declined by nearly 100,000 children, from 523,000 in 2002 to 424,000 in 2009. (Note that the number of children in care over a year’s time is over 700,000.) Adoptions have increased over the decade to a high of 57,000 in 2009. To see the data, go to: bit.ly/AFCARS_2009.

Advocating for Very Young Children in Dependency Proceedings

The American Bar Association (ABA) has released a new Practice & Policy Brief, Advocating for Very Young Children in Dependency Proceedings: The Hallmarks of Effective, Ethical Representation, by Candice Maze, JD. The brief explains how attorneys representing very young children can profoundly influence the health, development and well-being of their clients. Included are four hallmarks of advocacy that enhance effectiveness of representation and strengthen an attorney’s ability to handle ethical dilemmas. Read the brief online at bit.ly/infant_advocacy.

Early Childhood Experiences Have Lasting Effects

Experiences between birth and age 5 matter significantly to children’s long-term emotional and psychological health, and changing these experiences for the better pays dividends, according to several articles in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Content provides “key, actionable evidence of how we can manipulate the early environment of children and make a tangible difference in their health,” write Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH, and Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH, of the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Read the ScienceDaily summary of the issue at bit.ly/early_experience.

Strong Adult-Youth Relations Predict Permanency

A study in the current issue of American Journal of Orthopsychiatry found that adoption likelihood can best be predicted by how well youth are integrated into their foster homes. The researchers stressed the importance of the youth’s developing strong relationships with adults in achieving any type of permanency. An unexpected finding was that behavior problems were not related to permanency outcomes. To read the abstract, go to bit.ly/adopt_prediction.

Maternal Incarceration

More than 150,000 American children have mothers who are in prison—a population that grew 122% between 1991 and 2007. A new multistate study examines the lives of incarcerated mothers, their children and the challenge of rebuilding successful lives. The report, Childhood Disrupted: Understanding the Features and Effects of Maternal Incarceration, can be downloaded by going to bit.ly/maternal_incarc. National CASA recently released a podcast on this topic, which can be found at bit.ly/family_connect.

New Report Finds Child Abuse Rate of 0% in Lesbian Households

A research center on sexual orientation law and public policy at the UCLA School of Law has announced new findings from the long-running US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study. In an article published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the Williams Institute noted that none of the 78 adolescents interviewed reported having ever been physically or sexually abused by a parent or other caregiver. This contrasts with 26% of all adolescents who report parent or caregiver physical abuse and 8.3% who report sexual abuse. See the Huffington Post article at huff.to/zero_abuse.

38 States Increase Adoptions from Foster Care

The US Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that 38 states will receive incentive awards for increasing the number of children adopted from foster care. States receive payments for every adoption over their 2007 baseline levels and incentives for children over age 9 or who have special needs. To read a full list of recipients, go to bit.ly/adopt_awards.

Do you have news about the child welfare field to share with Connection readers? We'd love to hear about it! Send an email with a brief summary to theconnection@nationalcasa.org.



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