CDC: Flu Vaccination Rates Remain Low 

12/12/2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported low overall flu vaccination rates of 40% for this season, a similar number as last year’s coverage.

The current estimates are based on survey data from up to early November and show that 37% of children aged 6 months to 17 years and 41% of adults aged ≥18 years have received the flu vaccine. The Healthy People 2020 goal is to reach 70% coverage across all age groups.

“We are urging parents to make sure their children get a flu shot this season, as the nasal-spray vaccine is not recommended for the 2016–2017 flu season. An annual flu vaccine is very important protection for children,” said Joe Bresee, MD, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch of CDC’s Influenza Division.

Source: CDC: MPR

Available at: http://www.empr.com/news/cdc-flu-vaccination-rates-remain-low/article/578669/

First Year of Life Poses Highest Risk for Child Abuse

11/24/2015

The risk of serious physical abuse is highest among infants under the age of 1, a new study shows.

Researchers looked at nearly 15,000 children younger than 16 who were treated for severe injuries at hospitals in England and Wales between 2004 and 2013. Of those injuries, 92 percent were accidental, 2.5 percent were the result of fights and 5 percent were caused by abuse.

Among children with abuse-related injuries, 98 percent were younger than 5, and 76 percent were less than a year old. Abuse-related injuries were more severe and more likely to involve the head/brain than accidental injuries.

Abused children were also three times more likely to die of their injuries than other children in the study, 7.6 percent vs. 2.6 percent.

Boys accounted for 59 percent of abuse victims and 89 percent of those treated for injuries caused by fights or accidents, according to the study published online Nov. 23 in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

While young children accounted for the vast majority of abuse victims in this study, it doesn’t meant that older children don’t suffer abuse, noted the researchers led by Dr. Ffion Davies, an emergency medicine consultant from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in England.

“It may simply be that the more robust physique of an older child means that major trauma is more difficult to inflict,” the researchers suggested.

Source: HealthDay News

Available at: http://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/domestic-violence-news-207/infants-under-1-at-highest-risk-for-physical-abuse-study-705494.html

Citing multiple deaths, study calls for banning crib bumpers

11/23/2015

For nearly eight years, a Washington University School of Medicine physician has been trying to alert parents, consumers and regulators to the danger of infant suffocation and injury from crib bumpers.

That alarm first came after his 2007 study attributing 27 deaths to crib bumpers from 1985 through 2005.

Yet, despite repeated statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics advising against their use, the demand for crib bumpers remains high, as does the overall public perception they are safe.

Indeed, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association continues to maintain in its formal platform that the organization does “not know of any infant deaths directly attributed to crib bumpers.”

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch

Avaiilable at: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/citing-multiple-deaths-study-calls-for-banning-crib-bumpers/article_786694df-d048-5fc3-9472-98f50261b1b0.html

Poor kids who go to daycare may later do better in school

11/23/2015

The more time low-income children spend in daycare, the better they’re likely to be doing in school at age 12, a Canadian study suggests.

While previous research has linked high quality daycare centers to better academic performance, the current study focussed on whether daycare might help reduce or eliminate income-based disparities in achievement through adolescence.

Researchers found that children from low-income families who spent the most time in center-based care scored 37 percent better on reading and writing tests and 46 percent better on math exams at age 12 than similar kids who logged the fewest hours in daycare centers.

“Children from disadvantaged families who remain at home have double risks – they evolve in a home environment that is less stimulating than that of non-disadvantaged children and they are not exposed to the learning experience that most children receive by going to child care,” senior author Sylvana Cote, of the University of Montreal in Canada, said by email.

Source: Reuters

Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-kids-daycare-idUSKBN0TC1XN20151123

Child care workers aren’t paid enough to make ends meet 

11/5/2015

By Elise Gould

Child care workers play an important role in the U.S. economy by allowing parents of young children to pursue employment outside the home and providing children a stimulating and nurturing environment in which to learn and grow.

In recent decades families have increasingly had to rely on child care because spending more time at work has become an economic necessity for many. Over the last 35 years, most American workers have endured stagnant wages—a reality that has led many two-parent households to work significantly longer hours to cover their rising expenses (Mishel et al. 2012).

Despite the crucial nature of their work, child care workers’ job quality does not seem to be valued in today’s economy. They are among the country’s lowest-paid workers, and seldom receive job-based benefits such as health insurance and pensions. As with any other industry or occupation, paying decent wages and providing necessary benefits is essential to attract and retain the best workers.

Source: Economic Policy Institute

Available at: http://www.epi.org/publication/child-care-workers-arent-paid-enough-to-make-ends-meet/

Helping children hear better

10/27/2015

Hearing well impacts every area of a child’s life—language and speech development, social skills, and future academic and personal success.

Yet little research has been conducted that focuses on infants and preschoolers with mild to severe hearing loss to determine what support or services will help them succeed.

A large-scale longitudinal study, the first-of-its-kind in the nation, followed children ranging in age from 6 months to 7 years old who experienced mild to severe hearing loss.

The Outcomes of Children with Hearing Loss (OCHL) study, conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa, Boys Town National Research Hospital, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, examined the impact of early identification and intervention on children with hearing loss.

The study’s findings were published online Oct. 27  in a monographic supplement to the November/December issue of the journal Ear and Hearing, published by the American Auditory Society.

Source: Iowa Now

Available at: http://now.uiowa.edu/2015/10/helping-children-hear-better

Keeping Play in Kindergarten

10/26/2015

After two rewarding years of teaching pre-K, I felt ready for the new challenge of teaching kindergarten. I knew there would be some substantial changes as I moved from the world of pre-K to the more traditional K-12 school model. After all, DC kindergartners are expected to master the more rigorous Common Core standards which include the requirement for students to “read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.” Nap time was gone and lesson planning would soon consume a large portion of my weekends.

These were all changes I had anticipated and even welcomed. The major change I did not anticipate was the dramatic shift away from play-based learning in favor of direct teacher instruction. The play kitchen was gone, along with the vast stretches of time dedicated to center-based learning in which students were able to choose their preferred activity. I spent a lot of my time as a kindergarten teacher trying to find the right balance between allowing opportunities for play and ensuring that all of my students experienced significant academic growth throughout the school year.

Source: EdCentral

Available at: http://www.edcentral.org/kinderplay/

What Should Smarter Testing Look Like in the Early Grades?

10/30/2015

The proper role of testing in our nation’s schools has been a hot topic of conversation this week. It all started last Saturday when the Council of the Great City Schools released a study of 66 urban school districts that found students take about 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-K and 12th grade. That averages out to about eight tests per year and consumes about 2.3 percent of students’ total class time. The study found a great deal of redundancy and overlap among the tests that students take each year. Perhaps most importantly, the study pointed out that there is no correlation between the amount of mandated testing time and student test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly known as “The Nation’s Report Card.”

Prompted in part by the release of the Council’s study on Saturday, the Department of Education released a Testing Action Plan on the same day, while President Obama emphasized the need for smarter testing in schools. Most notably, the Testing Action Plan calls for a two percent cap to be placed on the amount of classroom instructional time that is dedicated to test-taking. However, this cap doesn’t address the large amounts of time schools spend on test preparation prior to students actually taking the tests. The plan advocates for fewer and smarter assessments by ensuring that any tests administered be high-quality, time-limited, and properly aligned to the content and skills students are currently learning. The Department wisely points out that a well-designed test is not used only to assess what students know at one point in time, but is part of a broader strategy to inform and guide additional teaching. The Department has promised to issue clear guidance by January 2016 on best practices for using testing as a learning tool.

Source: EdCentral

Available at: http://www.edcentral.org/testing/

New Reports: Dual Language Learners in Portland (OR), San Antonio (TX), and Washington (DC)

10/30/2015

Nearly one year ago, New America launched its Dual Language Learners National Work Group to provide consistent analysis of policies affecting dual language learners (DLLs). In our inaugural blog post, we argued, “Too often, DLLs’ needs are considered solely as afterthoughts in…education policy discussions.” So, as part of our first year of work, we promised to “spotlight” places where educators are trying “innovative strategies to serve these students better.”

Over the last year, we visited 30 campuses across 11 districts in two states and the District of Columbia. During these visits, we talked to dozens of teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

Today, the DLL National Work Group is proud to publish three reports built from these conversations. The papers explore local efforts to improve how schools support DLLs in San Antonio (TX), Portland (OR), and Washington (DC). In each paper, we trace out the history, design, implementation, and effectiveness of various local reforms before offering concrete lessons for districts pursuing similar strategies.

Source: EdCentral

Available at: http://www.edcentral.org/profilepost1/

Children with a Parent in Prison: The Forgotten Casualties

10/27/2015

When we talk about crime, we usually focus on either the perpetrator or the victim; the perpetrator’s family and community are rarely discussed. But when a parent is sent to prison, it has consequences for their children.

In a recent report from Child Trends, my colleagues and I found that there are five million children in the United States who have had a parent that they lived with go to jail or prison—more than the total number of children in the entire state of New York. And the burden is not evenly divided. Those who are poor, black, and/or live in rural areas are more likely to see a parent imprisoned. Nearly 12 percent of black children have had a residential parent go to jail.

That experience has consequences. We found that children who have had an incarcerated parent are more likely to repeat grades or have a parent called in to talk about problems in school, and parents reported lower school engagement. Troublingly, the experience was also associated with other potentially traumatic experiences, such as frequent economic hardship, parental divorce, and living with someone who had a substance abuse problem. While it is not clear whether these problems are directly caused by parental incarceration, it is evident that these children need special attention and help.

The first places to help these children are their schools. Children with an incarcerated parent may need extra support, and schools can make efforts to identify such children and monitor their progress—although they should be careful not to further stigmatize them in the process. Schools can also provide counseling services and develop other programs to address the unique needs of this group.

Additionally, we help these children by addressing the way that we incarcerate parents. We can promote policies that make it easier and more affordable for incarcerated parents to stay in touch with their children. Prisoners are often housed far away from their families, making in-person visits costly and difficult to schedule. Even phone calls can be prohibitively expensive for prisoners and families alike. Providing local access to video conferencing technology is one option; simply reducing the rates for calls to family is another. Encouraging the continuation of positive family ties should be seen as an essential part of preparing incarcerated parents for success in their communities once they’re released.

In-person visits can also be traumatizing for kids. A visit is a visceral reminder of the parent’s situation, and can be potentially upsetting. However, there have been promising early results from programs that make visits more child-friendly. Waiting rooms with toys, streamlined security, and friendly meeting rooms may make the surroundings less intimidating and lighten the experience of meeting the parent.

We can also help parent prisoners make the most of the contact they have. One researcher has recommended five types of programs to serve incarcerated parents: education in parental skills, programs that provide extended special visits for children, child-friendly facilities for visits, parenting support groups, and custody services to aid with divorce proceedings and child support modifications. Most current programs fall into the first category, but there is little research on the most effective programs for this population. Creating more such programs, and studying their effects, should be a high priority. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services is currently funding such efforts in Washington State.

Of course, the most effective strategy is prevention. Finding alternative punishments for low-level offenders, so they can stay with their families and in their communities, may be the best thing for their children. Maybe if we consider the children that will be left behind, we can make better decisions about when—and if—to send a parent to prison.

Source: Child Trends

Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/children-with-a-parent-in-prison-the-forgotten-casualties/