Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Family homelessness rose by 15 percent in Connecticut over the past year, according to a new report from the Partnership for Strong Communities.

Things are increasingly tough for renters and home owners alike, the Partnership says, with Connecticut ranking among the 10 most expensive states for both.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources, the Partnership finds that 51 percent of renters pay more that 30 percent of their income on housing and that 27 percent are severely burdened by their housing costs, spending more than half of their income on housing.

And even though the price of a house has plummeted, buying one remains too difficult for many families, since the price remains high in comparison to other states, because family incomes have fallen, and because getting a mortgage has become more difficult, the Partnership says.

Monday, June 27, 2011

'60 Minutes' takes another look at homeless children

"60 Minutes" has updated the piece it first aired in October on children made homeless by the recession. The accompanying article notes that this will be "the largest American generation to be raised in hard times since the Great Depression."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Homeless crisis among gay teens getting Obama administration's attention

Jason Cherkis of the Huffington Post reports that the Obama administration--in the person of Bryan Samuels, commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services--has issued a memo encouraging local child welfare agencies to ensure the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth who find themselves in need of homes.

"This Information Memorandum (IM) confirms and reiterates my fundamental belief that every child and youth who is unable to live with his or her parents is entitled to a safe, loving and affirming foster care placement, irrespective of the young person's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression," Samuels wrote. "I encourage child welfare agencies, foster and adoptive parents and others who work with young people in foster care to ensure that their physical and emotional well-being are protected."

LGBTQ youth "are often overrepresented in the population of youth served by the child welfare system and the population of youth living on the streets," Samuels noted, pointing to such data as a National Network of Runaway and Youth services finding that while 4 to 10 percent of the general population is estimated to be gay, anywhere between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youth are gay.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Food stamps increasingly common in Connecticut's suburbs

The Hartford Courant reports that Connecticut's affluent and middle-class towns saw the greatest percentage increase in the number of residents receiving food stamps between 2007 and 2010.

"The increase was partly driven by changes in income eligibility rules in Connecticut," the Courant notes. "As that happened, more stores in more places began to accept food stamps." But it's also true that this recession has reached deep into the middle class. Lucy Nolan, head of End Hunger Connecticut! and a member of the Speaker's Task Force on Children in the Recession, put it this way for the Courant: "We've seen a lot of people who say they never thought they'd be on the program. All of a sudden they're out of business or out of a job."

Also according to the article, the total number of Connecticut residents enrolled in the federal food stamp program has been climbing for 28 consecutive months.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Number of unemployed African-Americans and Hispanics in Connecticut on the rise

Despite a slight drop in the total number of unemployed in Connecticut from a year ago, there's "an alarming increase in the number of unemployed African-Americans and Hispanics," the state African-American Affairs Commission reports in a new issue brief (PDF).

The Commission cites data from "Labor Force Data for Affirmative Action Plans," a quarterly report of the state Labor Department. The latest edition of the report says the total number of minorities (black and Hispanic) who are unemployed rose in the first quarter of 2011 compared to a year ago, from 76,260 to 81,130. That's an increase of 2.9%.

The Commission also notes some disturbing numbers on the unemployment rate for minorities in Connecticut's nine major labor markets, concluding that in all markets "minority unemployment was disproportionate to the population." In the Bridgeport-Stamford market, blacks and Hispanics accounted for more than 60 percent of the 25,330 unemployed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Most describe college as unaffordable

Three-quarters of the Americans who participated in a Pew Research Center survey described college as too expensive for most people to afford. Still, an overwhelming majority of college graduates (86 percent) said college has been a good investment for them personally.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Speaker's Task Force reconvenes

Last year, the work of the task force led to legislation for protecting Connecticut's most vulnerable families. On May 2, the panel reconvened to get status reports on the legislation and to gather information on the latest crisis for families devastated by the recession: the looming expiration of their unemployment benefits.

Video, documents, and more | Task Force home page

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Jobs available for only 1 in 4 teenagers, study finds

Back in 2000, 45 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds nationwide found summer employment.

Those were the good old days.

A new study (PDF) from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston finds that the summer job market for teens has eroded so much in the past decade that only about 25 percent will find work this summer.

Study co-author Andrew Sum warns that this will hurt teens’ future employability. “The less work you do when you’re a teenager, the less likely it is that you work [right] after you graduate, and you’re going to end up getting lower-wage, less employment when you’re in your early- to mid-20s,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Increasingly, poverty is suburban

The suburbs are now home to one-third of the nation's poor, according to the Brookings Institution, which predicts that the percentage will increase in coming years. Brookings also finds that the social-service networks in the suburbs are stretched too thin to adequately clothe and feed their newly poor.

Associated Press article, via Yahoo!

Brookings website: "Strained Suburbs: The Social Service Challenges of Rising Suburban Poverty"

Monday, May 3, 2010

Recession tied to abusive head trauma

The rate of abusive head trauma to infants and young children has nearly doubled since the economy began collapsing in 2007, a national study indicates.

Researchers looked at the number of abuse cases in four U.S. hospitals, in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio. They found increases in every city.

"Abusive head trauma -- previously known as 'shaken baby syndrome' -- is the leading cause of death from child abuse, if you don't count neglect," study author Dr. Rachel P. Berger, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told the Health Day news service. "And so, what's concerning here is that we saw in four cities that there was a marked increase in the rate of abusive head trauma among children during the recession compared with beforehand."

"Now we know that poverty and stress are clearly related to child abuse," added Berger. "And during times of economic hardship one of the things that's hardest hit are the social services that are most needed to prevent child abuse. So, this is really worrisome."

USA Today also has an article.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For nonprofits, greater demand for services but fewer resources

Just as their existence is threatened, Connecticut nonprofits are seeing greater demand for their community services than ever, according to survey results from the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits. Fifty-four percent of the groups who participated in the survey reported seeing consumers they had never seen before. They also reported an 82 percent rise in demand for services in general. The Hartford Business Journal has more details.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The stress of unemployment reaches kids

HealthDay, in an article carried on, reports on the growing evidence that children of the unemployed often struggle with depression, poor school performance, and behavioral problems as a result of the increased stress in their households.

"In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll of more than 700 unemployed adults, nearly half of those who reported being unemployed for six months or more said their children's lives had changed; nearly 40 percent said they had noticed changes in their children's behavior," HealthDay reports.

Dr. Audrey Walker, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Children's Hospital of Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, estimates that nationally, one in seven children has an unemployed parent. That's 10.5 million kids.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Food stamp usage up 30% in Connecticut this year

But behind that number are some more telling facts. As WFSB-TV's Eyewitness News reports, the new applicants for assistance are increasingly well-educated and coming from smaller towns. The station interviewed Lucy Nolan, executive director of End Hunger Connecticut! and a member of the Speaker's Task Force on Children in the Recession.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

For young blacks, a recession would be an improvement

"Joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old black men has reached Great Depression proportions -- 34.5 percent in October, more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population," according to the Washington Post. The numbers for young black women are awful too.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Watch video, read documents from the 11/19 meeting of the Speaker's task force

The Speaker's Task Force on Children in the Recession held its third meeting on Thursday, November 19, 2009, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. It took testimony from state and national experts on the following topics:

  • The State of Working Connecticut
  • Unemployment and Welfare in a Recession
  • The American Dream and Hopes for College
  • Youth: Gaps and Opportunities

Watch CT-N coverage of the meeting and read meeting documents

NOTE: The Task Force, as part of its plan to hear testimony from residents of each of Connecticut's five congressional districts, will hold a hearing for the 1st District at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 5, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Directions

The 1st District, represented in Congress by John B. Larson, includes these communities: Barkhamsted, Berlin, Bloomfield, Bristol, Colebrook , Cromwell, East Granby, East Hartford, East Windsor, Glastonbury, Granby, Hartford, Hartland, Manchester, Middletown, New Hartford, Newington, Portland, Rocky Hill, Southington, South Windsor, Torrington, West Hartford, Wethersfield, Winchester, Windsor, and Windsor Locks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Children in the Recession Task Force meets Thursday, November 19

The legislative task force formed by House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan to address the needs of Connecticut children and families impacted by the recession will meet at 10 a.m., Thursday, November 19, in Room 2-E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Agenda (PDF) | Task force home page

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nearly half of all U.S. children will use food stamps, study finds

A new study finds that 49 percent of all U.S. children will, at some point during their childhoods, live in households that use food stamps.

The study, co-authored by professors Mark R. Rank of Washington University in St. Louis and Thomas Hirschl of Cornell University, is based on an analysis of 30 years of information taken from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and looks at children between the ages of 1 and 20. The PSID is a longitudinal survey of a representative sample of U.S. individuals and their families interviewed annually since 1968.

The study's findings are consistent with a wider body of research demonstrating that U.S. children face considerable economic risk throughout their childhood years, according to Rank.

"Rather than being a time of security and safety, the childhood years for many American children are a time of economic turmoil, risk, and hardship," he says in a Washington University press release.

The study also found that:

-- 90 percent of black children will be in households that uses food stamps. This compares to 37 percent of white children.

-- Nearly one-quarter of all American children will be in households that use food stamps for five or more years during childhood.

-- 91 percent of children with single parents will be in households receiving food stamps, compared to 37 percent of children in households head by married couples.

-- Children who are black and whose head of household is not married and has less than 12 years of education have a cumulative percentage of residing in a food stamp household of 97 percent by age 10.

"Understanding the degree to which American children are exposed to the risks of poverty and food insecurity across childhood is essential information for the health care and social service communities," Rank says. "Even limited exposure to poverty can have detrimental effects upon a child's overall quality of health and well-being."

The study, "Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment During Childhood," is published in the current issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

View video of a University of Washington interview with Dr. Rank here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Great Recession vs. Great Depression: We regard kids differently

Or so thinks New York Times blogger Judith Warner. And from her viewpoint, today's kids don't fare well in the comparison: "Overall, the Depression-era consensus regarding care for children and families appears to be shattered, or at best, deeply fragmented."

She quotes historian Steven Mintz as saying: "We seem to care little about what it means to a child to lose a home or have stressed-out parents. The difference between then and now is striking."

"Is it an overstatement," Warner asks, "to say that we’re at risk of losing a generation of children if we don’t step up to the plate to provide additional support for families under duress? We are, at the very least, at risk of helping erode children’s most basic sense of security and safety, as well as their hopes for the future. Families are keenly under pressure. We ignore them at our collective peril."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another product of the recession: more runaways

The New York Times has published a long, disturbing look at the growing number of runaway children in the U.S. It's a trend driven at least in part by the recession, according to the Times:

"Over the past two years, government officials and experts have seen an increasing number of children leave home for life on the streets, including many under 13. Foreclosures, layoffs, rising food and fuel prices and inadequate supplies of low-cost housing have stretched families to the extreme, and those pressures have trickled down to teenagers and preteens."

The Times says this article is the first in a two-part series.