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Policy Basics: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

May 4, 2015 Comments off

Policy Basics: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, popularly known as WIC, provides nutritious foods, counseling on healthy eating, breastfeeding support, and health care referrals to more than 8 million low-income women, infants, and children at nutritional risk.

Infants and very young children can face lifelong cognitive and health consequences if they don’t get adequate nourishment. WIC aims to ensure that pregnant women get the foods they need to deliver healthy babies and that those babies are well-nourished as they grow into toddlers.

An extensive body of research over the last few decades shows that WIC works. WIC participation contributes to healthier births, more nutritious diets, improved infant feeding practices, less anemia, and more preventive health care.

Mathematica Conducts First Study of WIC Agencies’ Breastfeeding Policies and Practices

May 2, 2015 Comments off

Mathematica Conducts First Study of WIC Agencies’ Breastfeeding Policies and Practices
Source: Mathematica Policy Research

The psychological, economic, and overall health benefits of breastfeeding, for both infants and mothers, are well documented. However, many barriers to breastfeeding exist, including cultural norms, lack of family support, employment and lack of health services, particularly among disadvantaged and low-income populations. In an effort to overcome those barriers, breastfeeding promotion and support is a core component of the nutrition services provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to low-income women and children up to five years of age.

A new In Focus and Research Recap video from Mathematica Policy Research’s WIC Breastfeeding Policy Inventory Study (WIC BPI) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, shed light on the comprehensive range of policies and practices that WIC agencies use to promote breastfeeding. The first study to examine WIC agencies’ breastfeeding policies, the WIC BPI surveyed 90 state-level agencies and nearly 1,800 local WIC agencies.

Mathematica found the following:

+ Nearly 80 percent of local WIC agencies had at least one staff member with a breastfeeding credential.
+ Two-thirds of local WIC agencies operated a peer counseling program to provide breastfeeding support. Peer counseling has been shown to be one of the most successful approaches to encourage mothers to breastfeed.
+ Nearly all local agencies collected information about WIC participants’ breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity, but only about half collected information about intensity.

The WIC BPI lays the groundwork for future research on how agencies’ breastfeeding policies and practices evolve over time and which practices are associated with better breastfeeding rates for different populations. Helping the USDA understand WIC agencies’ currently breastfeeding measurement capabilities can contribute to the design of future breastfeeding reporting systems.

State of the News Media 2015

May 1, 2015 Comments off

State of the News Media 2015
Source: Pew Research Center

Call it a mobile majority. At the start of 2015, 39 of the top 50 digital news websites have more traffic to their sites and associated applications coming from mobile devices than from desktop computers, according to Pew Research Center’s analysis of comScore data.

At the same time, though, desktop visitors to these sites tend to spend more time per visit than do mobile visitors. For half of these top 50 news sites – which include legacy print, cable, network, international and public broadcasting outlets as well as digital-only entities – visitors from desktops stay longer than those coming through mobile. The reverse is true for only 10 of the sites, while for 15 sites the time spent is roughly equal.

Immigrant and Refugee Workers in the Early Childhood Field: Taking a Closer Look

May 1, 2015 Comments off

Immigrant and Refugee Workers in the Early Childhood Field: Taking a Closer Look
Source: Migration Policy Institute

The face of the young child population in the United States is rapidly changing. Today, children of immigrants account for one in four of all those under age 6, and represent all the net growth in this population since 1990. With research consistently showing the importance of early learning experiences in setting the stage for children’s healthy development and academic success, it is increasingly clear that these demographic changes point to the need for a diverse, well-qualified early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce to deliver linguistically and culturally competent care.

At the same time, just as the number and share of children of immigrants have grown substantially, the foreign-born share of ECEC workers has also risen: immigrants now account for nearly one-fifth of the overall ECEC workforce. However, these immigrant workers—and the linguistic and cultural diversity that they bring to the field—are highly over-represented in lower-skilled and lower-paying sectors of the profession such as family-based child-care workers; few hold leadership positions as center directors or work as prekindergarten (pre-K) teachers. Despite the increasing demand for culturally and linguistically sensitive ECEC services, these competencies are often not recognized as important for ECEC workers; less than one-quarter of the workforce speaks a language other than English, and there is a mismatch between the growing diversity of languages spoken by immigrant children and families and the languages typically spoken by the ECEC workforce.

Estate and Inheritance Taxes around the World

May 1, 2015 Comments off

Estate and Inheritance Taxes around the World
Source: Tax Foundation

Key Findings

  • The U.S. has the fourth highest estate or inheritance tax rate in the OECD at 40 percent; the world’s highest rate, 55 percent, is in Japan, followed by South Korea (50 percent) and France (45 percent). Fifteen OECD countries levy no taxes on property passed to lineal heirs.
  • The U.S. estate tax has a high rate and a large exemption; as a result, it raises very little revenue and applies to very few households.
  • U.S. estate tax receipts have declined precipitously over the last fifteen years, from $38 billion (2015 dollars) in 2001 to an estimated $20 billion in 2015.
  • As estate taxes become narrow-based, meager revenue sources with high administrative costs, repeal becomes a strong option. Thirteen countries or jurisdictions have repealed their estate or inheritance taxes since 2000.
  • Repeal of the U.S. estate tax would gradually increase the U.S. capital stock by 2.2 percent, boost GDP, create 139,000 jobs, and eventually increase federal revenue.

Destination China: The Country Adjusts to its New Migration Reality

April 29, 2015 Comments off

Destination China: The Country Adjusts to its New Migration Reality
Source: Migration Policy Institute

China’s place in the global migration order has been transformed by three decades of rapid economic development. Policies to reform and open the country initiated in 1978 accelerated Chinese emigration and internal migration towards the industrialized coast. While these flows remain important, another trend has gained momentum: Increasing numbers of foreigners are making their way to China.

Migration to China is exceptionally diverse. With a robust economy, welcoming universities, and low living costs, the country attracts people from all parts of the world. Relatively lenient visa policies have allowed entry to migrants from a range of backgrounds. The passage of new legislation in 2012, however, marked a step towards stricter immigration control.

Americans’ Views of the Retirement Crisis

April 28, 2015 Comments off

Americans’ Views of the Retirement Crisis
Source: National Institute on Retirement Security

A new nationwide public opinion research report finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans – 86 percent – believe the nation faces a retirement crisis.

This biennial nationwide public opinion research is the fourth poll that measures how Americans feel about their financial security in retirement and assesses their views on policies that could improve their retirement outlook. It is intended to serve as a tool for policymakers, thought leaders and retirement service providers as they work to stem the retirement crisis and re-fortify the U.S. retirement infrastructure.

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