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Racial Gaps in Early Childhood

September 15, 2011 Comments off

Racial Gaps in Early Childhood
Source: National Center for Children in Poverty

The aims of this study are to examine racial gaps in cognitive and socio-emotional development among boys in early childhood and to identify factors that contribute to early resilience among African-American boys. Our main research questions include:

  • What racial gaps emerge across cognitive and socioemotional development in early childhood among African-American infant, toddler, preschooler, and kindergarten boys and white-American boys?
  • Do these gaps remain after controlling for family socio-economic status (SES) and other child, family, and home environment characteristics?
  • What factors contribute to early resilience and buffer against these risks among African-American boys?

A wealth of literature documents racial gaps and poor outcomes of school-age African-American children across a range of domains, including educational achievement measured by indicators such as test scores and rates of school exclusion. African-American children and youth are two-to-three times more likely to be suspended from schools. In particular, African- American boys perform poorly compared with white boys or African-American girls in different educational outcomes. Data from 2003 to 2009 indicate that by fourth grade, African-American boys in public schools score about 30 points lower in reading than white boys, and this gap remains at eighth grade. Research also shows a similar trend in mathematic achievement. At fourth grade, African-American boys score about 30 points lower than white boys and the gap increases to close to 40 points by eighth grade.

African-American boys also lag behind their female counterparts. While girls in general perform better in K-12 and in higher education than boys, gender differences among African-American groups are larger than among other groups. African-American women account for 62 percent of all African-American undergraduates and two-thirds of those who earn an associate’s degree.

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Quality in Family, Friend, and Neighbor Child Care Settings

July 5, 2011 Comments off

Quality in Family, Friend, and Neighbor Child Care Settings
Source: National Center for Children in Poverty

This review examines the current research on the quality of family, friend, and neighbor care. Specifically, it looks at the following questions:

  • What are some of the difficulties in defining quality in FFN?
  • What are the structural characteristics related to quality of FFN care (for example, provider education and training, adult:child ratio, etc.)?
    What is the quality of care in FFN settings, including interactions between children and their FFN caregivers?

  • To what extent do parental perspectives regarding FFN care shape our considerations about quality?
  • What do we know about FFN care and children’s developmental outcomes?
  • What evidence supports strategies to improve the quality of FFN care?
  • What are some of the methodological concerns with studying the quality of FFN care?

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Adolescent Substance Use in the U.S.

June 29, 2011 Comments off

Adolescent Substance Use in the U.S.
Source: National Center for Children in Poverty

Adolescence is an important period of physical, social, psychological, and cognitive growth. No longer children and not yet adults, adolescents make significant choices about their health and develop attitudes and health behaviors that continue into adulthood. Substance use disorders among adolescents can impede the attainment of important developmental milestones, including the development of autonomy, the formation of intimate interpersonal relationships, and general integration into adult society. 1 Similarly, the use of alcohol and illicit substances by youth often leads to adverse health outcomes. 2

Because heightened peer influence and a tendency towards risk taking are normal developmental changes in adolescence, experimentation with substances during this period is common. However, using drugs and alcohol at a young age increases the risk of dependency and addiction, 3 and early onset of drinking increases the likelihood of alcohol-related injuries, motor vehicle crash involvement, unprotected intercourse, and interpersonal violence. 4

The more risk an adolescent is exposed to, the more likely it is he or she will abuse substances. 5 Some risk factors, such as peer influence, may be more powerful during adolescence, and likewise some protective factors, such as a strong sense of school belonging and a meaningful positive adult presence, can have a greater positive impact during this period. An important goal of substance abuse prevention is to reduce risk and increase protective factors in the lives of all adolescents, and particularly among disadvantaged youth. 6

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