Can America’s Kids Succeed?
Critical Investments Should Target the First Eight Years of Life, Report Finds
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s latest KIDS COUNT policy report, The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success, presents a strong case for investing in the early years of a child's life. Decades of brain and child development research show that kids who enter kindergarten with below-average language and cognitive skills can catch up — but only if they are physically healthy and have strong social and emotional skills.
“All children need nurturing and plentiful opportunities to develop during their crucial first eight years,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Today's complicated world can strain families' ability to ensure their children are receiving all the stimulation and care they need to develop to their full potential.”
The report details how a child’s early development across critical areas of well-being is essential to make the effective transition into elementary school and for long-term school success. According to a newly released analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal study that began to track 13,000 children who were in kindergarten in 1998-99, by third grade, only 36 percent of children were on track in cognitive knowledge and skills, 56 percent in their physical well-being, 70 percent in their social and emotional growth and 74 percent in their level of school engagement.
To prepare all of America’s children for success, the report sets forth three broad policy recommendations:
- Support parents so they can effectively care and provide for their children.
- Increase access to high-quality birth-through-age-8 programs, beginning with investments that target low-income children.
- Develop comprehensive, integrated programs and data systems to address all aspects of children’s development and support their transition to elementary school and related programs for school-age children.
The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success includes data on early childhood development for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation.
Download The First Eight Years
View the accompanying media release
Access national indicators on early childhood
When Child Welfare Works
New Proposal Calls for Return on Investment in Federal Child Welfare Financing
Restructuring of federal child welfare funds should improve kinship and family foster care, reduce the amount of time kids are in state care and end federal spending on shelter and non-treatment group care, says a new proposal aimed at helping more kids grow up in families.
When Child Welfare Works: A Proposal to Finance Best Practices, a report and proposal from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, would transform the outdated 30-year-old system of federal funding for child welfare systems to support better outcomes for children and families while maintaining the existing overall funding level.
The organizations presented their recommendations at a Capitol Hill briefing for more than 150 policymakers, child welfare experts, advocates, agency heads, judges and others interested in improving outcomes for children and families served by state and local child welfare systems.
The organizations’ leaders said they hoped the ideas would be a springboard for policy deliberations and inform thoughtful action.
New Poverty Data in KIDS COUNT Data Center
Child Poverty Rate Remained Steady, Says 2012 Survey
Poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey are now available in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT Data Center
. For the first time since the recession, the child poverty rate remained steady. In 2012, 23 percent of children in the United States lived in poverty (16.4 million). Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia saw their child poverty rate stay the same or decrease between 2011 and 2012. The Data Center's new poverty information
covers the nation, states and the largest 50 cities.
Evolving the Use of Residential Placement
Research Perspectives on Reconnecting Child Development and Child Welfare
Nearly one in five kids involved in the child welfare system spends time in a residential facility. Yet, child development and child welfare experts confirm that these group settings do not allow kids to develop the family relationships they need to guide their social and emotional development. A new paper from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, "Reconnecting Child Development and Child Welfare: Evolving Perspectives on Residential Placement"
summarizes a 2012 convening of researchers in the fields of child development and child welfare who propose limiting residential placements to short-term therapeutic treatment that engages families and targets children’s specific needs.
In addition to the full report, a summary of recommendations
also is available.
Achieving the Anchor Promise
Improving Outcomes for Low-Income Children, Families and Communities with Anchor Institutions
Anchor institutions are enterprises such as universities and hospitals that are rooted in their local communities by mission, invested capital or relationships to customers, employees and vendors. As place-based entities that control vast economic, human, intellectual and institutional resources, they have the potential to bring crucial, and measurable, benefits to local children, families and communities.
Many anchor institutions regularly report on community programming and activities, and some even make a commitment to consciously apply their long-term, place-based economic power and human and intellectual resources to improve the welfare of the communities in which they are anchored. But few tools exist to help them reflect and assess broadly the long-term impact of their anchor-mission activities, and particularly their impact on low-income communities.
A white paper funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, "Achieving the Anchor Promise: Improving Outcomes for Low-Income Children, Families and Communities," from the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland, helps anchor institutions measure that impact and identifies 12 key areas where they can play an effective role, drawing on more than 75 in-depth interviews with leaders of anchor institutions, national nonprofits, federal agencies and community organizations.
In addition to the white paper, an accompanying report on dashboard indicators for anchor institutions is available.