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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

“How much arithmetic does a pupil forget in a summer vacation?”

“Is this loss made good, or more than good, by a week or two of review in the fall?”

These questions are relevant today, but they are not quotes from a recent article on summer learning loss. These are the questions asked in 1906 by William F. White, a professor of mathematics at the State Normal School in New York. He authored one of the early studies documenting the loss of math skills among school age children after summer break.

Summer-Learning-Day-logo-no-urlFor more than a century, educators have documented, studied and tried to combat summer learning loss. It has become well known that all children are prone to losing math skills during the summer, and modern studies show the loss of reading skills is also an issue, especially among children from low-income families.

The National Summer Learning Association highlights one reason for the reading gap that exists based on household income; (more…)

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President Reagan first designated April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983. Since then, organizations around the country have commemorated the month with activities and events. Here in Tulsa, members of the Parent Child Center Youth Council (PCCYC) placed 1,658 pinwheels at the Parent Child Center campus to represent each substantiated case of child abuse in Tulsa County in 2013.child abuse prevention ribbon

Nationwide, an estimated 3.8 million allegations of child abuse or neglect were responded to by child protective service workers in 2012. An estimated 686,000 children were confirmed victims of child maltreatment.

Most states recognize four major types of child maltreatment: Neglect; Physical Abuse; (more…)

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Life seems to be measured in Seasons. The Holiday and Football Seasons are behind us; the Tax Season and Baseball Season are now upon us. (Pitchers and catchers officially began reporting on Feb. 11th.)  But until the taxes are filed and regular season games begin, Tax Season takes precedence even over baseball in the minds of most Americans.

While the season may be met with anticipation by some and dread by others, for many low and moderate income families and policymakers, there is relief at the recent extension of some key tax provisions.  As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) blogged about, Congress recently extended some important components of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) through 2017.

To understand why these extensions are important we need to understand what makes them examples of good policy.  The EITC and the CTC are appealing to many policymakers because they encourage work and strengthen a family’s finances.  Theitc rainy dayese credits encourage employment because individuals must report earned income to be eligible for the credits. They also give workers an incentive to achieve higher wages because the more an individual earns the larger their credit will be, until it begins to phase out at higher income levels.

Another key advantage to low-income families is that the tax credits are refundable, meaning that if the credit exceeds the amount of taxes owed by a low-wage worker, the IRS will still refund all or part of the balance.  Unfortunately, many Americans are unaware of the EITC.  Estimates show that one out of five eligible taxpayers failed to take advantage of it in 2011 alone.  It’s like hitting a home run, and failing to tag all the bases; many families earned the tax credit, but never took the necessary steps to receive the benefit.

Now we turn to the importance of these extensions in the lives of American families.  The EITC, which lifted an estimated 3 million children out of poverty in 2011, had two important elements added in the 2009 Recovery Act. (more…)

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For the first time in years, I skipped Black Friday.  I’m usually out there with the best of them, looking for discounts and enjoying the chaos.  So no disrespect to brave souls who faced the crowds this year, but I couldn’t bring myself to tackle the early morning mayhem.  There were some perks to sitting it out.  It not only felt good to sleep in, but it gave me time to examine what I really wanted to do with my money and time this holiday season.  That isn’t to say I stayed home all day.  I was out that afternoon, visiting friends and tending to the necessities of life, like getting a tire fixed.  So giving up on Black Friday was not an attempt to fend off the approach of carols and decorations, so much as it was an effort to reprioritize things. I want to take part in the Season, but on different terms this time.

Then on the way to work yesterday, on the sleepy Monday morning following a four day weekend, I heard a story that renewed my interest in post-Thanksgiving traditions.  NPR was reporting on the first ever Giving Tuesday.  More than 1,400 groups are launching an event to kick-off the holiday giving season, and it starts today. While I am usually skeptical of “new” traditions, I hope this one catches on.  Corporate marketing has given us Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and even Cyber Monday, each an attempt to boost participation and bring in revenue.  However, the shopping casts a shadow on other priorities, so reinventing how we promote and practice the holiday tradition of charity is probably long overdue. (more…)

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It’s November and time to think about what we will make for that important meal.  And for some families in Tulsa, we’re not just talking about the highly anticipated Thanksgiving Feast.  Set the Table Tulsa is challenging local families to sit down at the dinner table four times a week, every week, all month long.  In a busy and overly connected world, it seems like a radical idea: family bonding, without the television, the computer or the cell phone as the center of our attention.  However, when we are able to incorporate this simple form of family time into our routines, it should be a cause of ongoing thanksgiving.

And let’s face it, if finding time for a sit down dinner was easy, it wouldn’t be such a rare event.  It comes down to time, a precious commodity in our busy world, and if we want to spend time wisely we need to budget it just like we do our money. Set the Table Tulsa has provided a space for participants to blog about their experiences as they change the way they view mealtime.

Vanesa Mares is one of the writers documenting how this experience is impacting her life.  She is already keeping up with a busy schedule, between caring for her children, one of whom is enrolled in CAP’s early childhood program, and developing her own skills through CAP’s CareerAdvance® program.  Yet she and her family are making the time to eat together.  In her posts she discusses her family’s process of setting a meal plan and trying to disconnect from the cell phone, which is something to which we can all relate.  Turning the phone to silent and setting it aside during dinner is one suggestion I am challenging myself to adopt after reading her posts, and I suspect I’ll be thankful for thirty minutes of peace and quiet. (more…)

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Earlier this year, the Foundation for Child Development and Annie E. Casey Foundation released a series of reports on the child well-being index (CWI) for states. Study authors note that national information for child well-being does not help us understand how children are doing, since there is so much state variation and since states have responsibility for so many of the programs that support children and their families.

As is often the case with ranking documents, the news is not good for Oklahoma. In this very broad measure of how children fare (including 25 separate measures), Oklahoma children rank 43rd, with an index value of -0.56. New Jersey children are best off, with an index of 0.85, and New Mexico’s are worst off, with an index of -0.96. Perhaps most disturbing of all, we were in the bottom 10 states on five of the seven “domains” that were measured. Oklahoma’s domain rankings were: (more…)

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Research indicates that children living in poverty are at risk for a whole host of poor child and adolescent outcomes, especially if that poverty occurs early in childhood.  New research also indicates that childhood poverty can have a significant impact on adult outcome measures.  Possible reasons for the increased impact of early childhood poverty are also beginning to emerge.  Two articles in the Winter 2011 issue of Pathways  investigate these  concepts and how policymakers can use this research to inform better anti-poverty policies. 

(more…)

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