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Children and Youth

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The well-being of children and youth is a central Urban Institute research topic. Our work spans child development at the youngest ages to teenagers transitioning into adulthood. We study child care, the child welfare system, juvenile justice, child poverty, and children's health and education. Read more.

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Making Sense of Childhood Asthma: Lessons for Building a Better System of Care (Research Report)
Marla McDaniel, Susan J. Popkin, Judy Berman, Paola Barahona, Priya Saxena, Deborah Quint, Stephen J. Teach

This report highlights findings from a qualitative study about asthma care for low-income African American and Latino children ages 4-14 in Washington, DC, where nearly one in five children under age 18 has the condition. We interviewed medical providers, health administrators, policy makers and caregivers whose children had visited the IMPACT DC clinic (located in the emergency department of Children’s National Health System) about the primary barriers, challenges, and opportunities for improving asthma treatment in DC. The stakeholders each felt their school, clinic, agency, or department had a role to play in improving asthma care, and that many challenges were system-related. Three major areas where caregivers and stakeholders described system breakdowns were poor communication among caregivers, providers, and other stakeholders; inadequate access to both the quality and quantity of care needed to manage a child's asthma; and scarce long-term support to address both the social-emotional and financial burdens created by managing a chronic childhood illness.

Posted to Web: April 16, 2014Publication Date: April 16, 2014

Children's School-Related Food and Physical Activity Behaviors Are Associated with Body Mass Index (Article)
Tracy Vericker

Childhood obesity is a critical public health issue, with prevalence rates reaching nearly one in five children. Schools may be a promising public policy intervention point. The foods schools sell and the physical activity environments they foster can influence dietary behaviors and overall physical activity. Using secondary data from a nationally representative sample of children from the kindergarten class of 1998-1999 and nonexperimental methods, this study examines the associations between the food and physical activity environments in school and body mass index (BMI) for low-income boys and girls in the 8th grade during 2007. Results reveal that participating in school sports is associated with a 0.55 lower BMI score for boys. For low-income girls, eating the school breakfast is associated with a 0.70 higher BMI score and eating the school lunch is associated with a 0.65 higher BMI score. Each hour spent on homework is associated with a 0.02 higher BMI score for low-income girls. These findings suggest that schools may influence adolescent BMI and that there is room for improvement in school food and physical activity environments to promote healthier weights for low-income boys and girls.

Posted to Web: April 14, 2014Publication Date: October 28, 2013

Improving Access to Prekindergarten for Children of Immigrants: Outreach (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
Julia Gelatt, Gina Adams, Sandra Huerta

Children of immigrants can benefit from attending prekindergarten, though they enroll less, on average, than children with US-born parents. This fact sheet focuses on outreach strategies to support prekindergarten enrollment for children of immigrants — specifically those for identifying immigrant families, promoting programs, and sustaining outreach. It is one of three factsheets, all summarizing findings from Supporting Immigrant Families' Access to Prekindergarten. This detailed report draws on interviews conducted with more than 40 prekindergarten directors and staff, directors of early childhood education programs, and other specialists to present strategies for improving prekindergarten enrollment among immigrant families and English Language Learners.

Supporting Immigrant Families' Access to Prekindergarten

Posted to Web: March 19, 2014Publication Date: March 19, 2014

Innovations in NYC Health and Human Services Policy: Young's Men's Initiative (Research Brief)
Nan Astone, Michael Katz, Julia Gelatt

The New York City Young Men's Initiative is dedicated to reducing the inequities in adult success between young men of color and other young people in New York City. YMI has brought attention to the inequities between young black and Latino men and other young people and ensured that targeted education, employment, health, and justice policies and programs are a priority citywide. It is a model for harnessing the enormous human resources of young men of color toward economic progress for all. This brief is one in a series examining selected social service initiatives undertaken during the Bloomberg administration.

Posted to Web: March 17, 2014Publication Date: March 17, 2014

Innovations in NYC Health and Human Services Policy: Teen Pregnancy Prevention (Research Brief)
Nan Astone, Steven Martin, Lina Breslav

Since 2005, New York City has undertaken several initiatives to reduce the city’s unintended teenage pregnancy rate, aiming to change the context of decisions to engage in sexual activity and to use contraception. These strategies included developmentally appropriate comprehensive sex education from middle school onward, the removal of barriers to access contraception, and reproductive health services that are youth friendly—particularly male youth friendly. Rates of teenage pregnancy and sexual activity declined while these programs were under way. This brief is one in a series examining selected social service initiatives undertaken during the Bloomberg administration.

Posted to Web: March 17, 2014Publication Date: March 17, 2014

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