New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Military Disability System: Improved Monitoring Needed to Better Track and Manage Performance. GAO-12-676, August 28.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/647592.pdf
2. Medicare Special Needs Plans: CMS Should Improve Information Available about Dual-Eligible Plans’ Performance. GAO-12-864, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648292.pdf
3. Waivers Related to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant. GAO-12-1028R, September 19.
4. Homeland Security: DHS Requires More Disciplined Investment Management to Help Meet Mission Needs. GAO-12-833, September 18.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648489.pdf
5. Human Capital: Complete Information and More Analyses Needed to Enhance DOD’s Civilian Senior Leader Strategic Workforce Plan. GAO-12-990R, September 19.
6. Next Generation Enterprise Network: Navy Implementing Revised Approach, but Improvement Needed in Mitigating Risks. GAO-12-956, September 19.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648567.pdf
7. Suspension and Debarment: DOD Has Active Referral Processes, but Action Needed to Promote Transparency. GAO-12-932, September 19.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648578.pdf
1. Human Capital Management: Effectively Implementing Reforms and Closing Critical Skills Gaps Are Key to Addressing Federal Workforce Challenges, by Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, before the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, House Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-12-1023T, September 19.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648593.pdf
Source: Credit Suisse
"Family businesses" have been a key focus of research at Credit Suisse. This dates back to 2007, when we launched the CS Family Business Index of listed family companies exhibiting best in class financial characteristics. Our analysis not only focuses on a substantial proportion of the corporate sector and in turn the source of wealth creation, it also identifies an economic sector that delivers consistent excess stock market returns. We have conducted a survey of international member businesses of the Family Business Network International. The results highlight a number of key themes:
- Family businesses have to date coped relatively well in the current hostile environment
- Their model has paid off consistently over time for both family members and outside investors
- Where succession is concerned, families are sticking together
- Sustainability and philanthropy are key issues for family businesses
Low fertility increases descendant socioeconomic position but reduces long-term fitness in a modern post-industrial society
Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society
Adaptive accounts of modern low human fertility argue that small family size maximizes the inheritance of socioeconomic resources across generations and may consequently increase long-term fitness. This study explores the long-term impacts of fertility and socioeconomic position (SEP) on multiple dimensions of descendant success in a unique Swedish cohort of 14 000 individuals born during 1915–1929. We show that low fertility and high SEP predict increased descendant socioeconomic success across four generations. Furthermore, these effects are multiplicative, with the greatest benefits of low fertility observed when SEP is high. Low fertility and high SEP do not, however, predict increased descendant reproductive success. Our results are therefore consistent with the idea that modern fertility limitation represents a strategic response to the local costs of rearing socioeconomically competitive offspring, but contradict adaptive models suggesting that it maximizes long-term fitness. This indicates a conflict in modern societies between behaviours promoting socioeconomic versus biological success. This study also makes a methodological contribution, demonstrating that the number of offspring strongly predicts long-term fitness and thereby validating use of fertility data to estimate current selective pressures in modern populations. Finally, our findings highlight that differences in fertility and SEP can have important long-term effects on the persistence of social inequalities across generations.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
The Child Welfare Outcomes Reports are created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) to meet requirements of section 203(a) of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA). 1 ASFA amended section 479A of the Social Security Act (the Act) to require an annual report that assesses State performance in operating child protection and child welfare programs under titles IV-B and IV-E of the Act. Child Welfare Outcomes 1998 was the first report created in the Child Welfare Outcomes series of reports. The present report, Child Welfare Outcomes 2007–2010, is the eleventh report since the series’ inception.
CONTEXTUAL FACTORS The Child Welfare Outcomes Report presents data on child welfare-related contextual factors relevant to understanding and interpreting State performance on the outcome measures. 2 Below is a summary of fiscal year (FY) 2010 data for these contextual factors.
Characteristics of child victims
• In 2010, 754,000 children were confirmed to be victims of maltreatment. The overall national child victim rate was 10.0 child victims per 1,000 children in the population. 5 State child victim rates varied dramatically, ranging from 1.3 child victims per 1,000 children to 24.6 child victims per 1,000 children.
• The national child victim rate decreased from 10.4 child victims per 1,000 children in the population in FY 2007 to 10.0 in FY 2010. This is a continuation of a long-term, downward trend in the child victimization rate that began in the early 1990s.
Foster care information overview
• Nationally, there were approximately 415,000 children in foster care on the last day of FY 2010. During that year, an estimated 250,000 children entered foster care, and 248,000 children exited foster care. Among the States, the foster care entry rate ranged from 1.4 children per 1,000 to 7.5 children per 1,000 in a State’s population.
• Between FY 2002 and 2010, the number of children in care on the last day of the FY decreased by 22 percent. While currently it is not possible to determine the cause of the decrease in the number of children in foster care using the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) database, several States have made deliberate efforts to safely reduce the number of children in care through various programmatic and policy initiatives.
• Nationally, 213,000 children exited foster care to a permanent home in 2010 (i.e., were discharged to reunification, adoption, or legal guardianship). Of these 213,000 children, 145,000 were discharged to reunification; 52,000 were discharged to adoption; and 16,000 were discharged to legal guardianship. In addition, 27,000 children were emancipated from foster care in 2010. There were approximately 7,000 children who exited care for reasons other than permanency or emancipation, such as transfer to another agency or to another State.
• Approximately 107,000 children were waiting for adoption in 2010.
Because cross-species evidence suggests that high testosterone (T) may interfere with paternal investment, the relationships between men’s transition to parenting and changes in their T are of growing interest. Studies of human males suggest that fathers who provide childcare often have lower T than uninvolved fathers, but no studies to date have evaluated how nighttime sleep proximity between fathers and their offspring may affect T. Using data collected in 2005 and 2009 from a sample of men (n = 362; age 26.0 ± 0.3 years in 2009) residing in metropolitan Cebu, Philippines, we evaluated fathers’ T based on whether they slept on the same surface as their children (same surface cosleepers), slept on a different surface but in the same room (roomsharers), or slept separately from their children (solitary sleepers). A large majority (92%) of fathers in this sample reported practicing same surface cosleeping. Compared to fathers who slept solitarily, same surface cosleeping fathers had significantly lower evening (PM) T and also showed a greater diurnal decline in T from waking to evening (both p<0.05). Among men who were not fathers at baseline (2005), fathers who were cosleepers at follow-up (2009) experienced a significantly greater longitudinal decline in PM T over the 4.5-year study period (p0.2). These results are consistent with previous findings indicating that daytime father-child interaction contributes to lower T among fathers. Our findings specifically suggest that close sleep proximity between fathers and their offspring results in greater longitudinal decreases in T as men transition to fatherhood and lower PM T overall compared to solitary sleeping fathers.
See: Fathers Who Sleep Closer to Children Have Lower Testosterone Levels (Science Daily)
Parents’ Perceptions of Skin Cancer Threat and Children’s Physical Activity
Source: Preventing Chronic Disease (CDC)
Sun exposure is a major risk factor for skin cancer, but without physical activity, children are at risk of childhood obesity. The objective of this study was to explore relationships between parental perceptions of skin cancer threat, sun protection behaviors, physical activity, and body mass index (BMI) in children.
This is a cross-sectional analysis nested within the Colorado Kids Sun Care Program sun safety intervention trial. In summer 2007, parent telephone interviews provided data on demographics, perceptions of skin cancer threat, sun protection behaviors, and physical activity. Physical examinations provided data on phenotype, freckling, and BMI. Data from 999 Colorado children born in 1998 were included in analysis. We used analysis of variance, Spearman’s rho (ρ) correlation, and multivariable linear regression analysis to evaluate relationships with total amount of outdoor physical activity.
After controlling for sex, race/ethnicity, skin color, and sun protection, regression analysis showed that each unit increase in perceived severity of nonmelanoma skin cancer was associated with a 30% increase in hours of outdoor physical activity (P = .005). Hours of outdoor physical activity were not related to perceived severity of melanoma or perceived susceptibility to skin cancer. BMI-for-age was not significantly correlated with perceptions of skin cancer threat, use of sun protection, or level of physical activity.
The promotion of sun safety is not likely to inhibit physical activity. Skin cancer prevention programs should continue to promote midday sun avoidance and sun protection during outdoor activities.
Effect of Inhaled Glucocorticoids in Childhood on Adult Height
Source: New England Journal of Medicine
The initial decrease in attained height associated with the use of inhaled glucocorticoids in prepubertal children persisted as a reduction in adult height, although the decrease was not progressive or cumulative.
See: Children Taking Steroids for Asthma Are Slightly Shorter Than Peers, Study Finds (Science Daily)
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Herd immunity is an important benefit of childhood immunization, but it is unknown if the concept of benefit to others influences parents’ decisions to immunize their children. Our objective was to determine if the concept of “benefit to others” has been found in the literature to influence parents’ motivation for childhood immunization.
METHODS: We systematically searched Medline through October 2010 for articles on parental/guardian decision-making regarding child immunization. Studies were included if they presented original work, elicited responses from parents/guardians of children <18 years old, and addressed vaccinating children for the benefit of others.
RESULTS: The search yielded 5876 titles; 91 articles were identified for full review. Twenty-nine studies met inclusion criteria. Seventeen studies identified benefit to others as 1 among several motivating factors for immunization by using interviews or focus groups. Nine studies included the concept of benefit to others in surveys but did not rank its relative importance. In 3 studies, the importance of benefit to others was ranked relative to other motivating factors. One to six percent of parents ranked benefit to others as their primary reason to vaccinate their children, and 37% of parents ranked benefit to others as their second most important factor in decision-making.
CONCLUSIONS: There appears to be some parental willingness to immunize children for the benefit of others, but its relative importance as a motivator is largely unknown. Further work is needed to explore this concept as a possible motivational tool for increasing childhood immunization uptake.
Injuries from Batteries Among Children Aged <13 Years — United States, 1995–2010
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
Injuries to children caused by batteries have been documented in the medical literature and by poison control centers for decades (1,2). Of particular concern is the ingestion of button batteries,* especially those ≥20 mm in diameter (coin size), which can lodge in the esophagus, leading to serious complications or death (3–5). To estimate the number of nonfatal battery injuries among children aged <13 years, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff analyzed 1997–2010 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). To identify fatal battery exposures, other CPSC databases covering 1995–2010 were examined, including the 1) Injury and Potential Injury Incident File; 2) Death Certificate Database (DTHS); and 3) In-Depth Investigation File (INDP). From 1997 to 2010, an estimated 40,400 children aged <13 years were treated in hospital emergency departments (EDs) for battery-related injuries, including confirmed or possible battery ingestions. Nearly three quarters of the injuries involved children aged ≤4 years; 10% required hospitalization. Battery type was reported for 69% of cases, and of those, button batteries were implicated in 58%. Fourteen fatal injuries were identified in children ranging in age from 7 months to 3 years during 1995–2010. Battery type was reported in 12 of these cases; all involved button batteries. CPSC is urging the electronics industry and battery manufacturers to develop warnings and industry standards to prevent serious injuries and deaths from button batteries. Additionally, public health and health-care providers can encourage parents to keep button batteries and products containing accessible button batteries (e.g., remote controls) away from young children.
Selecting and Working With a Therapist Skilled in Adoption
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway
Members of adoptive families may need professional help when concerns arise, and professionals skilled in adoption issues often can prevent concerns from becoming more serious problems. An appropriate therapist will understand that although the adoptive family is often not the source of the child’s problems, it is within the context of the family relationships that the child will begin to heal.
Household Formation and the Great Recession
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
During the Great Recession, the rate at which Americans formed households fell sharply. Though the rate has recently picked up, it isn’t fast enough to make up for the shortfall in household formation that occurred over the last several years. An analysis of recent household formation patterns shows that the greatest shortfall occurred among young adults and that it is related to weak economic conditions. Housing choices have shifted as well, with a greater proportion of young households living in rental housing rather than owner-occupied homes.
How parents use time and money
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
The time pressures faced by working wives have led economists to predict that market goods and services would be substituted for those produced at home. Earlier research using Consumer Expenditure data found that a wife’s employment status (full time, part time, or not employed) had some influence on her family’s purchases of market goods and services, but other factors, such as family income and the wife’s education, were more influential.
Current Population Survey data show that, among married-couple families with children under 18 in 2009, both the wife and the husband worked for pay in 58.9 percent of these families.
This article examines weekday resource allocation decisions of married couples with a husband employed full time and with children under 18. These decisions relate, among other things, to working for pay; doing unpaid household work; purchasing services such as childcare, laundry and drycleaning, and food away from home; and eating out. Information about spending decisions was obtained from the 2009 Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) and information about time use was obtained from the 2009 American Time Use Survey (ATUS).
Results show that,
- Regardless of employment status, wives were more likely than husbands to spend time in household activities.
- On an average weekday, married fathers spent more time working than married mothers did, even married mothers employed full time.
- The proportion of families reporting childcare expenses and the average amount spent by those reporting were highest for families with full-time working wives and lowest for families with wives not employed for pay.
- Consistent with other research, working-wife families did not spend more on housekeeping and laundry services than did families with wives not employed for pay.
- Families with full-time working wives spent the greatest dollar amount on food away from home, but there was no significant difference in spending between families with part-time working wives and families with wives not employed for pay.
From the American Academy of Pediatrics: Circumcision Policy Statement
Male circumcision is a common procedure, generally performed during the newborn period in the United States. In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) formed a multidisciplinary task force of AAP members and other stakeholders to evaluate the recent evidence on male circumcision and update the Academy’s 1999 recommendations in this area. Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it. Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed this statement.
FTC Advises Parents How to Protect Kids’ Personal Information at School
Source: Federal Trade Commission
A new school year usually means filling out paperwork like registration forms, health forms, and emergency contact forms, to name a few. The Federal Trade Commission wants parents to know that many school forms require personal and sensitive information that, in the wrong hands, could be used to commit fraud in their child’s name.
A criminal can use a child’s Social Security number to get government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, or rent a place to live. Most parents and guardians don’t expect their child to have a credit file, and rarely order or monitor a child’s credit report. Child identity theft may go undetected for years – until the child applies for a job or loan and discovers problems in a credit report.
To help limit the risks of child identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission offers Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School. It explains how the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of student records and gives parents of school-age children the right to opt out of sharing contact information with third parties. It also suggests that parents ask their child’s school about its directory information policy, learn about privacy policies of sports or music activities that are not school-sponsored, and find out what to do if their child’s school experiences a data breach.
The second publication, Safeguarding Your Child’s Future, offers tips on how to keep your child’s data safe at home and online, and explains the warning signs of child identity theft. It also explains how parents and guardians can check whether their child has a credit report, and what to do if the report has errors.