Seminars on Youth Issues


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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Preparing Wisconsin’s Youth for Success in the Workforce

fis31_240x240Young people have been hit harder by unemployment than any other age group in the current recession. Unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds has doubled over the past decade, with low-income, minority teens especially hard hit. For decades, efforts have been made to reform K-12 education, promote college enrollment, and enhance work-based learning. Yet academic achievement and college graduation rates have failed to improve. Many U.S. employers still complain that today’s young adults do not have what it takes to succeed in the 21st century labor market. This seminar will present cutting-edge research on the most effective, evidence-based strategies for preparing our youth for success in the workforce. Two approaches will be featured that have some of the strongest evidence of improving life chances for youth—investments in early childhood education and Career Academies for making high school more engaging and career-relevant. Working together, youth, families, schools, employers, and policymakers can help ensure today’s generation of youth do not get left behind in the global economy.

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Positioning Wisconsin for the Jobs of the Future

fis30_240x240In July, Wisconsin’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 7.8% (Bureau of Labor Statistics). However, some workers have been hit harder than others. Nationally, compared to all workers over age 20, unemployment rates are four times higher among displaced workers (those who lost jobs because plants closed or moved, their position/shift was eliminated, or work dropped off; Center for Labor Market Studies, 2011). The percent of teens and young adults who are working is now at the lowest level since the end of the Great Depression (Harvard, 2011). However, high unemployment is not due entirely to lack of jobs, but also to the difficulty employers face in finding talent to fill vacancies. Families are key to producing the human talent that businesses require to remain competitive and innovative. This human talent is essential for efforts to attract and expand businesses in Wisconsin, so workers are prepared to step into these new jobs. What evidence-based programs will equip workers with the skills to meet current labor force needs and help businesses be more productive?

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Cost-Effective Approaches in Juvenile and Adult Corrections: What Works? What Doesn’t?

fis25_240x240In the last decade, the cost of corrections in Wisconsin increased from $368 million in 1996 to $956 million in 2006. Are there evidence-based approaches that could save tax dollars and still curb crime? Recent polls show the public favors rehabilitation and prevention programs for reducing juvenile crime over incarceration. Are there effective programs that deter juveniles and adults who commit crimes from doing so again? In what ways do adolescents differ from adults and does this affect how they should be tried and treated in the justice system?

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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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Programs and Policies to Prevent Youth Crime, Smoking and Substance Use: What Works?

fis08_240x240According to national estimates, almost half of young people, aged 10 to 17 abuse alcohol and drugs, commit crimes, fail in school, or engage in unprotected sex. These risky behaviors can interfere with the chances that young people will grow up to be healthy, productive adults. Do we know enough to prevent youth from engaging in risky behavior? What programs and policies work? How cost effective are they? Also, learn about one state’s experience with establishing prevention programs for children and families, including setting community goals and identifying measurable outcomes.

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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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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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Promising Approaches for Addressing Juvenile Crime

fis04_240x240Juvenile arrests increased by almost 40% in Wisconsin in the 10-year period between 1984 and 1993. Perhaps more alarming is the sheer size of the juvenile crime problem with over 122,000 arrests in the state in 1993. While violent juvenile arrests increased by almost 60% from 1984 to 1993, violent offenses accounted for only 1.9% of all juvenile offenses in 1993. In fact, the violent crime rate in Wisconsin represented less than one-half of the corresponding 1992 rate for violent crime in the Midwest and the nation.

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