The Annie E. Casey Foundation: Helping vulnerable kids & families succeed
Policy and Systems Reform Expert
Nate Balis Named Director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group

Nate Balis has been named the director of the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group (JJSG) effective July 1, succeeding Bart Lubow, who announced his retirement earlier this year. Balis brings to this role more than 15 years of experience in juvenile justice, social policy, research, evaluation and system reform. Since 2007, Balis has been a senior associate at the Foundation focusing on juvenile justice reform.

Most recently, Balis has led the JJSG’s efforts to expand the work of local Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) sites to the dispositional end of the system. While working to develop a scalable approach, he is helping local jurisdictions safely reduce incarceration and other out-of-home placements while introducing innovations to help local stakeholders improve their juvenile justice systems.

Balis previously led consulting engagements in Alabama and New York City aimed at safely reducing incarceration and expanding community-based alternatives. He managed technical assistance to sites, data analysis and training; built relationships with system leaders and community stakeholders; led and supervised teams of staff and consultants; and developed new tools to support the Foundation’s work.

“For over 20 years, the Foundation has been committed to advancing a national movement to safely reduce youth confinement,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Nate is a leader with the vision, energy and skills to work with Foundation staff, advocates and decision makers to accelerate positive reforms in the juvenile justice system. His strengths in site management, data analysis, initiative design and commitment to race equity will be tremendous assets in leading the Foundation’s juvenile justice work in the years ahead.”

Balis said his most important goal is to help systems see children in their custody as distinctly different from adults, to make better decisions about young people in trouble and to include families and communities as vital parts of the solution.

Kids, Race and Opportunity
New National, State Scorecard on Children’s Progress Shows Troubling Obstacles to Reaching Key Milestones

America’s future prosperity depends on our ability to prepare all children to achieve their full potential in life. Amid rapid demographic changes, a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows we have much ground to cover to ensure that all kids – especially children of color – are positioned to thrive.

The KIDS COUNT policy report, Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, unveils the new Race for Results index, which compares how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state level. The index is based on 12 indicators that measure a child’s success in each stage of life, from birth to adulthood.

By 2018, children of color will represent the majority of children in the United States. The report highlights serious concerns that African-American, Latino, Native American and some subgroups of Asian-American children face profound barriers to success – and calls for an urgent, multi-sector approach to develop solutions.

“This first-time index shows that many in our next generation, especially kids of color, are off track in many issue areas and in nearly every region of the country,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation.

Overall, the index shows that at the national level, no one racial group has all children meeting all milestones. Using a single composite score placed on a scale of one (lowest) to 1,000 (highest), Asian and Pacific Islander children have the highest index score at 776 followed by white children at 704. Scores for Latino (404), American-Indian (387) and African-American (345) children are distressingly lower, and this pattern holds true in nearly every state.

The report makes four policy recommendations to help ensure that all children and their families achieve their full potential.

New Infographic Shows High Cost of Doing Nothing About Federal Child Welfare Financing

Over the past decade, two key federal funding sources for child welfare agencies have been shrinking. Without legislative change, these sources will continue to decline precipitously over the next 10 years, providing states even less support for the needs of vulnerable children and families than they do today.

A new infographic from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative shows the high cost of doing nothing about our federal financing system for child welfare, and how funding streams from Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act are on a path to support a smaller percentage of children and fewer services to preserve and support families in the years ahead. These trends mean states will lose dollars to support children in foster care and federal support for the child welfare workforce also will continue to decline.

But federal financing for child welfare can be restructured to preserve funding while providing more incentives for best practices that will help more kids grow up in families and increase their odds of becoming successful adults.

My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to Build Ladders of Opportunity
The Annie E. Casey Foundation Joins White House Initiative to Support Young Men of Color

The Annie E. Casey Foundation and nine other philanthropies are joining efforts with the White House to help America’s young men of color reach their full potential and give all young people the opportunity to lead a healthy and productive life. The Casey Foundation, along with The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bloomberg Philanthropies, California Endowment, Ford Foundation, John and James L. Knight Foundation, Kapor Center for Social Impact, Open Society Foundations, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation have pledged to contribute a combined $7.5 million to coordinate the initiative.

“This is an important milestone in a movement that has been growing over the last 20 years, and we wholeheartedly support this effort,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “Our grant making focuses on ensuring that all children have a fair chance to reach their potential in the neighborhoods, school and in life. But when we take an honest look at our communities, it becomes obvious that boys of color have a tough time making it through childhood successfully.”

McCarthy was one of the 28 chief executive officers of foundations who met in 2013 to form the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color. Today’s announcement builds upon that meeting of philanthropic organizations and advances the pledge to explore strategies and engage in research to support effective action. In addition, the new initiative leverages these philanthropic investments and will work to bring together more public and private sector parties that can help to create workable solutions.

“African-American and Latino boys face significant barriers to success at every stage – from their early years into adulthood, said McCarthy. “The new initiative dovetails with our Foundation’s efforts to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live work and grow. We are proud to be part of this public-private initiative that can find pathways to opportunities for young people.”

The White House announcement recognizes the significant role that the philanthropic community is already playing to expand opportunity for young men of color.

Learn how the Casey Foundation is building ladders of opportunity for young men of color.

Low Reading Scores Show Majority of U.S. Children Not Prepared for Future Success

In a new KIDS COUNT data snapshot, the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that 80 percent of lower-income fourth graders and 66 percent of all kids are not reading proficiently - a key predictor of a student’s future educational and economic success. If this trend continues, the country will not have enough skilled workers for an increasingly competitive global economy by the end of this decade.

"Early Reading Proficiency in the United States" finds that two-thirds of all children are not meeting an important benchmark: reading at grade level at the start of fourth grade. Of even greater concern is that the gap between students from higher- and lower-income families is growing wider, with 17 percent improvement seen among the former group compared to only a 6 percent improvement among their lower-income peers.

Despite an improvement over the last decade in reading proficiency in many states, large disparities persist not only among economic classes, but also in certain racial minorities and their White and Asian peers. Dual language learners, who are the driving force behind the country’s demographic change, are among the least likely to hit this important milestone.

"Early Reading Proficiency in the United States" recommends that more must be done to increase reading proficiency for low-income children so that they can attain economic security as adults.

View the Foundation's news release on "Early Reading Proficiency in the United States," featuring Ralph Smith of the Casey Foundation and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and Laura Speer, also of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

View and download "Early Reading Proficiency in the United States."

Explore the latest data on early reading proficiency in the KIDS COUNT Data Center.