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Families Torn Apart: America’s Unjust Bail Practices

This article is part 7 of 8 in the column Children of the State

Imagine the following scenario: John, a single father of two, has been arrested. He is charged with theft and his bail is set at $2,000. Because John cannot meet this requirement, he is held in jail until his trial. His sons cannot remain on their own, and John has no immediate family who can care for them, so they are placed in foster care, in separate homes. After six weeks, John goes to trial and is found not guilty and released from jail.

John and his family’s lives have been drastically impacted by this experience. Because John was unable to Read more

Interstate Adoptions Heading for the Fast Lane

This article is part 13 of 15 in the column Kid's Capital Watch

A bipartisan trio of senators are pushing a bill to provide funding and resources for onboarding every state to electronic data—sharing systems for interstate foster placements and adoptions.

The Modernizing Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act would speed up interstate placements, giving children stable homes faster, according to sponsors Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Todd Young (R-IN), and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY).

Many state foster care agencies rely on outdated paper systems to process and approve foster care and adoption placements, both in-state and across state lines. While states spend thousands of dollars on copying and mailing, a child’s placement in a loving, stable home is delayed Read more

Parents Locked Up, Kids Left Out: Who Really Suffers?

This article is part 6 of 8 in the column Children of the State

The American criminal justice system has created a culture of mass incarceration.

As of 2015, the U.S. incarceration rate (698 per 100,000 people) was the second highest in the world, topped only by that of Seychelles (799 per 100,000), an East African island nation (click here).

For black and Latino males, the likelihood of incarceration is significantly higher. Due to their circumstances before imprisonment and its aftereffects, these individuals are also less likely to own property or a car or have access to the means of economic stability. This tends to trap them in poverty, which Read more

Forgotten Fathers

As Father’s Day approaches, retail sales are everywhere. Yet although fathers have a secure place in the annual sales calendar, their role in the lives of their children is underappreciated by government at every level.

Too many children, including here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, lack the benefit of being raised by both parents. Usually it is the father who is absent. In Philadelphia, for example, 60 percent of children live in a single-parent household. Of all single-parent households, 83 percent are mother-only households and 17 percent father-only.

Social research strongly suggests that a father’s absence from a child’s life has a negative impact on child well-being throughout the child’s formative life and beyond. Negative effects include economic depri­vation, increased probability of later incarceration, double the probability of dropping out of high school, greater likelihood of smoking and use of alcohol and drugs, plus higher risks of economic, physical, and emotional neglect.

Further, the tendency of child protective services is still to focus on serving mothers despite research high­lighting the important role of fathers in their children’s development. “Current policy regarding child protection services places increasing demands for providers to engage fathers whose children are involved in the child protection pro­cess. Implementation of this policy clashes with the ongoing challenges that fathers have historically faced in working within these systems” (“Engaging Fathers in Child Protection Services,” Children and Youth Services Review,  August 2012).

The current policy and practice of state intervention in family affairs suffer from an institutional and cultural bias that undervalues the role of fathers. This Father’s Day, let’s take time to reflect on the pressing need to help all fathers become fully involved in the lives of their children. Let’s hope, too, that those who provide children services of all types will make a greater effort to include fathers in their programs. For those fathers affected, the added time spent with their children would be far more appreciated than a new necktie.

 

My thanks to Rufus S. Lynch of The Strong Families Commission for educating me on the urgent need for father involvement.


 

The Plight of Children at Risk in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities and the Failure of Government and Pandering Politicians to Protect Them

This article is part 7 of 13 in the column Marci A. Hamilton

Children in the United States are routinely sacrificed on the pyre of their parents’ faith by pandering politicians without a moral compass. Children don’t vote but insular religious communities often vote as a bloc mandated by the male officials at the top, and that fact is not lost on power-hungry politicians like those in Utah who let the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) patriarchs marry off girls and abandon boys so that the men will have a better place in heaven. The same relationship between elected officials and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities exists: there are known risks to children but these politicians look the other way as they are feted by the rabbis and a community that keeps children at risk. Read more

Eight Guidelines for Parents of Dyslexic Children

This article is part 3 of 10 in the column Simple Words

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Dyslexia is frequently called a hidden disability. Although many, including me, would challenge using the word “disability,” the word “hidden” rings true.

Dyslexia can be invisible to someone who does not know what symptoms to look for. So as parents, we often trust medical or educational personnel to catch dyslexia symptoms and educate us on what needs to be done to help our children. This can be a big mistake.

As a parent of a dyslexic child, I have learned what works and what doesn’t work, and have condensed my experiences into these eight guidelines. Read more

Play With Me

This article is part 1 of 4 in the column American Mom In Denmark

In January 2015, I moved to a small town in rural Denmark with my husband and two young sons. Only two weeks before, we’d moved from Somerville, Massachusetts, out of the only home our kids had ever known. Our life there had been relatively happy and satisfying: We lived within reasonable walking distance of a subway stop, a lovely Indian takeout place, a decent Mexican restaurant, a lovely bakery, the Tufts University campus, six parks, two groceries, and a beautiful walking path along the Alewife and Mystic Rivers. We had nice groups of friends from various stages of our adult lives scattered around the area, and we had a small, modest apartment with wonderful upstairs neighbors and a vegetable garden in the back yard. The Boston area had been good to us and I wasn’t exactly itching to leave. Read more

Kids and Politics in the Year of Disruption

Can self-interest align with group interests to create a better world for kids? This was one of the larger questions that guided a recent discussion, Kids and Politics in the Year of Disruption, held at the University of Pennsylvania Law School on February 1.

Co-sponsored by Child’s World America and the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice, and Research, the event brought together local Philadelphia researchers, educators, health professionals, and community members interested in promoting children’s well-being under the Trump administration. Read more

Love Is a Stitch in Time That Saves Nine

This article is part 5 of 8 in the column Flights of Fancy

Logo: Flights Of Fancy by Cindy Dell Clark, PHD with flying owl

 

 

Recently, I was waiting in line at a highway rest stop and struck up a conversation with the woman in front of me. Her story stayed with me. She had an autistic son whose condition had been diagnosed even before he was a year old. Over a decade later, her son had received appropriate intervention steadily throughout his childhood. Now, at the crux of adolescence, he was thriving at a school specialized to meet his needs.

Her story stayed with me because of how early her son’s problem was identified—a testament to having parents who did not have their head in the sand when trouble was on the horizon. Their acceptance that their son was different meant that intervention was timely. Read more

The Demographic Both Party Platforms Missed: Child Sex Abuse Victims

This article is part 2 of 13 in the column Marci A. Hamilton

The wild ride of this year’s presidential election has left many looking for landmarks that will guide their choice for the next president. One place to figure out who stands for what lies in the 2016 Republican and Democratic Platforms. So I decided to explore how each party deals with children.

It would not have been irrational to assume that this would be the year when the epidemic of child sex abuse might find its way onto a platform. After all, Spotlight won the Oscar Award for Best Picture. Read more

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