All winter holidays share a common theme. They center on children, family and friends. The
traditions associated with them encourage us to be joyous, to gather together and to be grateful for our blessings.
For those of us who work as advocates for children and families, the message "to count our blessings" is one to heed. Often in our work, the challenges overwhelm the victories. Certain underlying issues that we address, such as violence, poverty and addiction, are enormously complex. We hear personal accounts, such as the one told recently in CFCC's Truancy Court Program by a child whose mother was shot in front of her, that are heartbreaking. Some days, it is all too easy to question whether what we do makes a difference.
It does. Collectively, we are making progress to improve the lives of children and families, although certainly not as quickly as we would like. In the spirit of the season, we at CFCC step back to consider how much all of us in this field have accomplished.
More high school students graduate on time. In the 2011-2012 school year, 80% of public high school students (3.1 million) graduated within four years of starting 9th grade for the first time (up from 73.7% in 1990). More Info
More high school students are attending college. About 66% of 2012 high school completers enrolled in college in the following fall, as compared to 60% in 1990. More Info
The school dropout rate has declined. The percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school diploma or equivalent declined from 12% in 1990 to 7% in 2012. More Info
More children attend preschool. In 2012, almost two-thirds of 3- to 5-year-olds were enrolled in preschool (up from 32% in 1980 and 59% in 1990), and 60% of these children attended full-day programs. More Info
Parents of children are better educated. In 2012, 85% of children lived with parents who have a high school diploma, up from 78% in 1990. More Info: 2014KidsCount
Health of Children and Adolescents
More children have health insurance. In 2012, 91% of children had health insurance, up from 87% in 1990. More Info: 2014KidsCount
Fewer young people smoke. In 2014, cigarette smoking reached historical lows among teens in 8th, 10th and 12th grades. For the three grades combined, 28% reported any smoking in the prior month in 1997, the recent peak year, but that rate was down to 8% in 2014. More Info: MonitoringtheFuture
Teen pregnancies continue a 10-year decline. In 2013, the teen birth rate was 26.6 births per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 years. In 1991, the teen birth rate was 61.8 per 1,000 females. More Info
Young people are drinking less. Lifetime, annual and 30-day measures of alcohol use were at historic lows (since 1975) for 8th, 10th and 12th graders, according to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future project. The three grades combined dropped from 43% to 41%, continuing a downward march from the 1997 peak of 61%. More Info: MonitoringtheFuture
Family and Juvenile Policy and Law
Fewer juveniles are incarcerated. In a little more than a decade, the number of youth confined in state and county juvenile facilities declined by 39%, from 108,801 in 2000 to 66,322 in 2010. Changes in policy eliminated a 15-year history of escalating incarceration of youth, as state policymakers recognized emerging science regarding the adolescent brain and evidenced-based alternatives to incarceration. More Info
Fewer children are in foster care. After rising steadily from 1980 to its peak in 1999, when 567,000 children were in foster care, the number of children in foster care has declined to about 402,000 in 2013. The number of African-American children in foster care has declined by 47% since 2002. More Info
Children in foster care increasingly are being cared for by kin. More than 26% of children in foster care live with a relative, often a grandparent. More Info
At CFCC, we are grateful to our many grantors and donors who have supported our ongoing work in family justice system reform. In 2013-2014, CFCC's Truancy Court Program (TCP) served 249 students and their families in seven Baltimore City schools. Seventy percent of these students graduated from the program, based on a minimum 65% reduction in unexcused absences/tardies and improved academics and behavior during their involvement in the ten-week program.
We know that all of us would like to see some of the percentages above get closer to their ultimate goals - 100% or 0%. That is what we at CFCC are working toward, and that is why what we all do, indeed, does matter. We look forward to continuing our efforts with you in 2015, and we send our best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.