Our New Report: Children with Incarcerated Parents

On May 26 CAHS and our partners at the Children with Incarcerated Parents Initiative (CTCIP) presented a new report (press release) on the impact that parental incarceration has on children in the state.

According to recently released statistics from the Department of Corrections, as of April 1, 2016, 53.67% of those currently incarcerated reported being a caregiver – leaving over 17,000 dependents in our state with a caregiver behind bars. An additional 5,000 dependents have a caregiver in a Department of Correction supervised community program (e.g., parole, house arrest).  Black children are 7.5 times more likely to have a parent behind bars than white children. Additionally, 1 in 9 African American children (11.4%), 1 in 28 Hispanic children (3.5%) and 1 in 57 white children (1.8%) have an incarcerated parent in the United States.Jailed

A vast body of nationally published research has found that children with incarcerated parents (CIP) are more likely to suffer a range of emotional, physical and behavioral issues. These issues include anxiety, depression, underachievement in school, aggression and alcohol/substance abuse. Furthermore, separation due to parental incarceration can be just as painful as other forms of parental loss and are often more complicated because of the accompanied stigma, ambiguity and lack of compassion or other social supports.

You can download the full report here. CTCIP has also produced a detailed report with data specific for New Britain that you can download here. If you have time, we highly recommend you listen the hour-long conversation that Erica Dean, our policy analyst, had on WNPR´s Where We Live last week.

These reports represent a first step for CAHS and CTCIP to draft a policy agenda to address the needs of children of incarcerated parents. We will continue working to collect more detailed and precise data on these children and work with advocates, families and state agencies with the aim of creating a policy agenda for 2017 on this issue.

A family in need – and an opportunity to succeed

We work for people like Sasha.
Sasha is a young mom who enrolled in Even Start, a program that creates opportunities for vulnerable children and their parents together. Sasha signed up for classes to receive her equivalency diploma, while her newborn, Janelle, was placed in an accredited early care classroom, located in the same adult ed center.
Even Start is a two-generation program, an innovative approach to social services that seeks helping families as a whole, not as separate pieces. We know that helping a mother look for a job, get her GED or enroll in college is not enough if she cannot take care of her kids. We know that educating children in great early care programs is less effective if their parents cannot find a job to provide them with a stable home. Two generation programs strive to help families succeed by providing both children and their caretakers with the supports they need to become successful, instead of having programs working in isolation.
CAHS is helping lead the charge for such innovative “two generation” approaches to break the cycle of poverty by moving children and their parents toward educational success and economic security.
We are doing it because families like Sasha´s cannot wait.
Next year, CAHS and our allies will work to improve and implement two generation programs in Connecticut, helping families become self sufficient. We have done this in the past, with the state Earned Income Tax Credit, and with an early care and education system that has made Connecticut a national leader.
But to make it happen, we need your support. With your help, we can continue to create pathways for a brighter future for Connecticut’s children and families.  Your support keeps us working every day-we couldn’t do it without you.  Your contribution will empower Connecticut families to thrive.  Together, we can ensure that thousands of families achieve their potential and live fuller and happier lives.

Please click here undefined to contribute – or visit our website to learn more about CAHS and send your donation.

Thanks for your support.

At Middlesex, talk on remedial education reform

This past Monday CAHS presented our latest report on remedial education “Transitional College Readiness Programs in Connecticut: Adult Educators as Partners” at Middlesex Community College, in Middletown.

This new report focuses on an innovative new model to address remedial education for transitional students, those that test at 8th grade or below in their placement test. A set of new programs have brought together community colleges and adult education providers to work together to provide remedial education, using a variety of new strategies that combine support services, personalized instruction, software-based solutions and innovative teaching tools. Ren Brockmeyer and Roger Senserrich, the main authors of the report, were at hand to present the findings (slides on their presentation here).

After discussing the report, a panel with Dr. Steve Minkler, Dean of Academic Affairs at Middlesex, Dr. Diane Clare-Kearney, Director of Manchester Adult and Continuing Education, and Fred Silbermann, Program Facilitator for Meriden Adult Education, joined the authors to discuss their experiences implementing the new programs. Following the panel, the attendees participated in table discussions on how Connecticut can create new pathways to success for non-conventional students.

The main conclusion of both experts and attendees is that the new reform has shown some very promising results where community colleges and adult education providers worked together to deliver remedial classes. Building new partnerships, however, has proved challenging.

The full report is available for download here.

CAHS´workshop: Behavioral Economics and asset building

On January 29th join the Connecticut Asset Building Collaborative in New Haven for the second event in our peer learning series:

Behavioral Economics:  Practical Strategies for Financial Successmoney1

Join us on  Thursday January 29rd, from 9 am to 12.00 pm,  at the United Way of Greater New Haven for an open discussion on best practices on program work.

We will hear from Julia Brown, from Innovations for Poverty Action and Yale´s Household Finance Initiative on how behavioral economics can inform and improve asset building programs, and learn how front line staff can apply these lessons to become more effective. We will cover:

  • What is Behavioral Economics, and how hidden incentives can help or hamper our work.
  • How to take into account loss aversion, selection bias and information overload to make our programs more effective.
  • How to pursue successful outreach strategies to  attract clients each year, responding to their perceived needs and providing the right incentives.
  • How to track and monitor data and outcomes in asset building, and use the data to inform our strategies and improve outcomes.
  • How to use VITA and other gateway services as a launchpad for financial education and asset building programs, building a successful referral network.

We will discuss these issues, and many more, in an open , freewheeling discussion with economists and program managers, all expert on this field. They will give an open, comprehensive look at best practices, good ideas and the (occasional) missteps running an asset building program.

Seating is limited, and filling up rapidly – please RSVP here  as soon as possible if you want to attend.

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Building Opportunity, Two Generations at a Time

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CAHS hosted a webinar on December 2nd, 2014 giving a general overview on these programs, going over their basic features and what challenges and opportunities around these efforts in Connecticut.

Nearly half of America´s families struggle to make ends meet. In Connecticut alone, 80,000 families with children age 8 or under are poor or near poor. In 60% of those families, none of the parents have full time, year round employment; in 80%, no parent has an associate degree or higher education.

Two generation strategies have proved to be an effective, bold solution to address these needs: programs that work to reduce poverty not by targeting the kids or the parents, but the family as a whole. Instead of addressing the needs of each member separately, two generational programs work with the family unit as a whole, combining early care and education, professional skills development, parenting classes, health care, adult education and other services to provide true wrap around support to both kids and parents.

  • You can download the PowerPoint presentation here, or watch it with audio below.


Resources from the presentation:

  • The enabling legislation for the Two Gen Policy Group can be found here.
  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation report on two-generation approaches is available here.
  • The Working Poor Families project report on two generation strategies is available here.
  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation has an extensive list of resources and links in this page.

Other reports and resources after the jump.

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Save the date! The FES Coalition Policy Academy is here

On December 18th the FES Coalition will be hosting our first FES Policy Academy at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, right by the Capitol.

What is the FES Policy Academy?1780628_10100675970865764_6644564155060391429_n

The FES Policy Academy is short, intensive conference focused on giving community leaders the tools to become effective advocates at the state Capitol. This half day event will include workshops on the legislative process and how to keep track of legislation, testify at the Capitol, have successful meetings with legislators, and be an effective storyteller.

Our main idea is simple: your voice is important, and we want to make sure it is heard. Our objective is to help community leaders, case workers, service providers and board members learn the tools that will make them effective advocates.

 

The FES Policy Academy will be focused on two main areas: why advocacy from service providers and clients is both important and powerful, and how can non-profits be successful in their advocacy efforts. We will start with the basics of the legislative process, and bring in legislators  and advocates to discuss how to bring change to it. Our objective is to spark action, not just teach.

  • When: December 18th, from 9:30 am to 1 pm (including lunch)
  • Where: Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut – Directions
  • Registration is available through this link. Seating is limited – make sure to register as soon as possible – not many seats left!
Agenda:
  • 9:30 to 9:45: Opening remarks – Jim Horan, CAHS Executive Director
  • 9:45 to 10:15: Introduction to the legislative process – Susan Keane, Appropriations.
  • 10:15 to 10:45: The power of advocacy – a panel with state legislators
  • 10:45 to 11: break
  • 11 to 12:35: breakout sessions  – two rounds of workshops.
  • 12:35 to 1:15: lunch
Available workshops:
 
The workshops will cover how to testify effectively, how to organize effective meetings with legislators, tools and resources to keep track of legislation, how to contact legislators, and how to collect stories from clients and make your case at the Capitol.
Seating is limited – registration is available through this link.

Two generation strategies for learning: a Kids Count report.

WP_20141112_002The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released a report focusing on two generation learning and education strategies to improve the lives of children.

CAHS and Connecticut Coalition on Children presented the report at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on November 12th on a community forum that included community organizations, parents, advocates and legislators to talk about the issues facing low income families in Connecticut and the opportunities and challenges a two generational approach to learning can open. Sarah Griffin, Senior Consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, presented the report, discussing its main points and addressing its policy recommendations.

You can download the report here.  You can download the PowerPoint slides on the report  here. Video of the full event here, embedded after the jump.

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Student loans and public service

Last Friday CAHS participated on a round table with Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Chris Murphy at the Hartford YWCA. The main topic was student debt, and more specifically, on how student loans hinder the graduate’s capacity to pursue public services careers.

Although there is currently a Federal loan forgiveness program for students pursuing public services jobs, the current rules are clunky and inflexible: an individual is required to remain ten years on these occupations without interruption or face stiff penalties. Both Connecticut US Senators are sponsoring a bill to improve this program. In 2012 the average student finished college with $29,400 in debt.

On Friday’s round table many care givers, non profit advocates, teachers and other public servants shared their stories (you can read some of them here) about struggling with debt and having to postpone major life decisions (having a kid, buying a house, saving for retirement) as they face their loan payments. Pictures from the event after the jump.

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Kids Count media coverage

 

photo(4)Several media outlets covered the launch of the national Kids Count Data Book on Tuesday, with some interviews and in depth coverage of the data presented.

Full video and photo gallery of the event after the jump. Continue reading

How Do CT’s Children Measure Up? – KIDS COUNT 2014

This is a first in a series of posts that CAHS will be doing on the 2014 Annie E. Casey KIDS COUNT National Data Book release. Below is our press release that summarizes the reports findings regarding CT’s kids. Stay tuned for updates – including a recap of today’s release event at the Legislative Office Building (find more information and RSVP here) and posts that take a deeper dive into the 16 indicators that give us insight to the health, education, economic-well being and family and community context of our states’s children. The full report is available now here.

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Child Poverty in Connecticut Has Increased Since 1990 despite Education Gains, New National Publication Reports

Number of children living in poverty has increased by 50 percent in the past 25 years according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book

Hartford – The number of children living in poverty in Connecticut has increased by 50 percent since 1990, according to a new report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Nationwide, child poverty numbers are up since the recent recession, with nearly 16.4 million children in families below the federal poverty level. The good news is that both nationally and in Connecticut there have been steady improvements over the past 25 years in the numbers of children attending preschool and a decline in the number of students not proficient in reading and math.

Connecticut is ranked 7th overall on the report’s child well-being indicators that span education, health, economic well-being, and family and community context. The state ranked as high as 3rd in the pre-recession 2006 and 2007 years. The KIDS COUNT Data Book evaluates the latest data on children and families for every state, the District of Columbia, and the nation.

Comparing data collected in 1990, the first year the KIDS COUNT Data Book was released, to the most recent available data, the 25th edition of the national KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals that in Connecticut:

  • Housing costs are a burden to children and their families. Over 40 percent of children in Connecticut are living in families that spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing. This places Connecticut near the bottom of all states (43rd).
  • More children are living in high poverty neighborhoods. The percentage of children living in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty has nearly doubled since 1990. There has also been a significant increase in the number of children living in single parent families. In 1990, it was 1 in 5 children; in 2014 the report finds that it is now 1 in 3 children.
  • Children are progressing in the areas of education and health. Connecticut’s children have improved significantly in education since 1990 – graduation rates and test scores have seen double digit percentage increases, and the state ranks 1st in the nation on the number of children who report a preschool experience. Connecticut also has a comparatively low-rate of uninsured children, and the lowest child and teen death rate in the country.

“This newest report shows us that Connecticut, one of the wealthiest states in the country, is falling behind,” said Jim Horan, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS). “The report also shows that a strong commitment paired with investment can bring about results. In recent years the Governor and the legislature have prioritized universal preschool access, and this year we were ranked number one in children reporting preschool experiences.”

Horan added, “We need to show this same commitment to our state’s poorest families in other areas – we need to allocate our time and resources to proven workforce training and support programs, greater affordable housing options, and outreach to our most vulnerable neighborhoods.

As the KIDS COUNT Data Book is being released in Baltimore, CAHS will be holding a conversation about the findings of the report, and next steps for the state, at a July 22 event at the State’s Legislative Office Building, Room 1C. The event will begin at 11:00 a.m.

The 2014 National KIDS COUNT Data Book is available in the KIDS COUNT Data Center, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of measures of child well-being. Data Center users can create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and view real-time information on mobile devices.

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The Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS) is a nonprofit policy and program organization that promotes family economic security strategies to empower low-income working families to achieve financial independence. Our mission is to end poverty and engage, equip, and empower all families in Connecticut to build a secure future.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.