Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New "Official" Poverty Measures

via City Limits

Cartoon Watch

Number 31

Cool Tool

Thanks to WORDLE, a visual representation of the words in my new book. Try it out for yourself -- it will work with nearly any text, web site, or blog.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Child Welfare Watch

From the New School and Center for an Urban Future (PDF)

Child Welfare Watch, Vol. 16, “Homes Away from Home: Foster parents for a new generation,” finds that foster parenting is harder than ever, as fewer foster teens—especially younger teenagers—are placed in institutions and a fast-growing percentage are moving in with families.

The city’s foster care system has made significant headway helping create family homes for young people who once would have spent months or even years in group homes and residential treatment centers. But city officials and nonprofit leaders face tremendous challenges in creating effective support systems, crisis teams and training programs that can help foster parents care for these children.

The report documents how foster parents are adjusting to their increasingly demanding role, and how the system is struggling to meet their needs. Highlights include:

Foster parents today are taking care of more than 1,000 children who, if they entered foster care a few years ago, would likely have been placed in group homes or residential treatment centers. (See “Greater Expectations: Foster parents confront new needs—and new demands.”)
While the city strives to place far fewer teens in group homes and residential treatment, so far the greatest success has been with younger teens. Older teens are just as likely to be placed in institutional, non-family programs as they were four years ago. (See “The Changing Face of Foster Care: The end of an era of institutionalized foster care for teens?”)

Although studies show between 50 and 70 percent of children in foster care have emotional and mental health problems, access to counseling and mental health care remains a severe gap in services, especially for teens in foster homes.

Today, most pregnant and parenting foster teens live with families, yet there are no citywide standards for how foster parents should be trained to help young mothers, nor does the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) systematically measure whether pregnant teens are getting basics such as prenatal care. (See “High-Risk, Low Priority: The needs of teen parents in foster homes are often unmet.”)

The percentage of children placed in foster boarding homes in their neighborhoods has dropped to 11 percent, a level not seen since the late 1990s. This runs counter to a target of 75 percent of community-based placement set by ACS in 2001. The vast majority of children who enter foster care are sent to live in unfamiliar neighborhoods, even as nearby foster homes are filled by children from other communities. (See “Hide and Seek: The rate of children in foster care living near their families and communities is plummeting.”)

The 16th issue of Child Welfare Watch also reports on new efforts to recruit foster homes and create bonds between parents and foster parents. And the report features daily diaries of three city foster care moms who share the unvarnished hazards and happiness of their lives with children.

The report also contains policy recommendations drafted by the Child Welfare Watch advisory board aimed at helping policymakers better support foster families and the children they shelter.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Fifth of July

Frederick Douglass, 1852

Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.-The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fa thers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.