Seminars on Parenting


Helping Foster Kids Succeed: State Strategies for Saving Lives, Saving Money

fis33In 2013, 6,516 Wisconsin kids were exposed to abuse, neglect, or adverse experiences in their own families and placed in out-of-home care. Foster care policy provides policymakers with an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable members. Placement in foster care can be the turning point for an upward trajectory or for a downward spiral. Foster kids, through no fault of their own, are at high risk for psychological and behavioral problems; these problems decrease the odds that foster youth will be reunified with their parents and increase the odds of longer foster stays and more placement changes. Policymakers across the country have seized this opportunity to provide foster youth with stable environments and supportive adult relationships. This seminar features three researchers who have devoted their careers to placing foster kids on a positive path to becoming productive workers and contributing citizens. These researchers discuss programs and approaches that 18 states have adopted to help foster kids succeed.

Appreciation is expressed to Linda L. Davis, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Phyllis M. Northway for their support of this seminar. The Family Impact Seminars are an initiative of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor’s Office and School of Human Ecology, with financial support from Phyllis M. Northway.

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Raising the Next Generation: Public and Private Parenting Initiatives

fis13_240x240In a recent poll of leaders in state legislatures across the country, child and family issues were said to be a “sure-fire vote winner.” This seminar provides a solid foundation for thinking about public policies affecting parents. Does parenting matter? Do we know what good parenting is? What can government do to promote good parenting and what can parents do to help themselves? How safe and effective are trained, supported foster care families in preventing juvenile crime among chronic repeat offenders?

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Building Resiliency and Reducing Risk: What Youth Need from Families and Communities to Succeed

fis10_240x240Our scientific knowledge of how to prevent youth problems and promote resiliency in youth has reached an all-time high. For example, we know that risk factors such as problems at home and negative peer pressure at school put a child in jeopardy. Also, protective factors such as a close relationship help kids who face overwhelming odds to do well. This seminar overviews risk and protective factors and highlights three award-winning prevention programs for high risk youth and families.

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Teenage Pregnancy Prevention: Programs that Work

fis07_240x240About 1 out of 10 teenage girls in Wisconsin is estimated to become regnant each year. Due to the personal, family, and public costs of teenage childbearing, preventing unintended pregnancies has generated broad political support. Yet few issues have been as divisive among politicians, school board members, and the public as how to prevent teen pregnancy. This seminar reviews the incidence of teen pregnancies in Wisconsin. Two of the country’s most successful teen pregnancy prevention programs are featured. These programs have been published in leading scientific journals and recognized nationally. Since many previous efforts have focused almost exclusively on females, implications are given regarding the importance of involving males as well as the families of teenagers.

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Child Support: The Effects of the Current System on Families

fis06_240x240Over the past 30 years, the percentage of children who live in single-parent households has approximately tripled. These children split about evenly between those living in a single-parent household because of divorce and those born outside of marriage. This demographic change is important to policymakers because today, unlike earlier this century, most children in single-parent households have another living parent who may be able to help pay for their expenses. Children in single-mother families are five times more likely to be poor than children in two-parent families. In 1993, about 66% of children of never-married mothers lived below the poverty line, compared with 38% of children of divorced mothers. This has spurred interest in how much child support nonresident parents, usually fathers, can afford to pay. This seminar examines the origins of Wisconsin’s child support system, how parents who live apart from their children divide childrearing responsibilities, and the economic and non-economic effects of these arrangements for children.

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Welfare Reform: Can Government Promote Parental Self-Sufficiency While Ensuring the Well-being of Children?

fis05_240x240Reforming the welfare system inevitably arouses passion and rhetoric. While many can agree on flaws in the current system, arriving at a consensus regarding solutions traditionally has proven extraordinarily difficult. One reason is that the welfare population is quite diverse. This seminar describes why welfare is so hard to reform, with special attention to the diversity of welfare recipients. It also highlights special segments of the welfare populations.

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Can Government Promote Competent Parenting?

fis03_240x240Citizens across Wisconsin perceive an array of societal ills, in areas ranging from school achievement to societal violence to issues of character and values, and see these as having a common contributing factor: ineffective parenting. But do we know what competent parenting is? To a surprising extent, researchers can agree.

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Single Parenthood and Children’s Well-being

fis02_240x240About half of all children born today are expected to spend some time in a single parent family before reaching age 18. Recent evidence suggests that children from single parent families do less well, on average, than children who live with both of their parents. These findings do not mean that every child growing up in a single parent family will do worse than a similarly-situated child in a two-parent family. What these findings do mean is that single parenthood increases the odds or the risk that children’s well-being will suffer.

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Building Policies That Put Families First: A Wisconsin Perspective

fis01_240x240Increasingly policymakers, professionals, and family members recognize that one of the best ways to help individuals, children and adults alike, is to focus on those people who so strongly influence their lives, their families. The family is said to be the most powerful, the most humane, and, by far, the most economical system for building competence and character in children and adults. Families carry out a variety of functions critically important to society. They share resources, economically support their members, and care for the elderly, the sick, and the disabled in ways that no other institution can do or do as well.

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