Thursday, August 12, 2010

Slate: Children and Stress

The new science on chronically harsh and conflict-ridden households.

. . . Here's where the science is producing fresh news. Recent work in this area points to three main conclusions.

First, less-extreme harsh environments still lead to physical health problems. Children don't have to be abused in a strict legal sense to suffer lasting harm.

Second, such harsh environments can be produced by multiple factors that individually don't seem that significant but can influence one another in a snowball effect. For example, low-level conflict between parents that continues a bit longer than usual can lead to changes in how they talk to their child, and a little more edge and stress in the parent's voice can increase child misbehavior, such as more noncompliance. That push-back from the child grates with special force on a parent's nerves that are already raw because of some added problem, like real or threatened loss of a job.

Everyone's reactions go up a notch, with raging parents and whiny children egging each other on in an ascending spiral of stress. Such things normally happen in most homes without long-range effect, but they are usually short-lived. When the stressors continue for weeks and months, are a little more intense than usual, and seem to become a way of life, significant psychological and physical problems are more likely to emerge. No one knows exactly how much stress will do it. Even if we did identify a tipping point, it would vary for each family and individual based on many other influences—such as, for instance, other sources of emotional support in each person's life.

Third, researchers have made progress in understanding the precise nature of the connections between the psychological conditions in which a child is raised and the heightened risk of disease later in life and early death. One view has been that growing up in harsh environments makes a person more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking, and risky sexual practices, thereby make children from such homes more likely to have some of the diseases mentioned previously. Maybe these kids grow up to be less healthy just because they do more things that we already know are bad for you. But even if that's true, it's not the whole story. The research shows that stress reactions and hormone and neuroendocrine responses all by themselves, independent of risky habits like smoking or heavy drinking, are different among people with early exposure to stress.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

UT's Daily Beacon: Turnaround evident in Tennessee child welfare

Turnaround evident in child welfare

Staff Reports - 
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 issue

Staff Reports
Tennessee has reduced the number of children in its foster care system by 34 percent since 2000, while providing more effective help to families, according to a study released by Casey Family Programs.
The study shows the number of children in state custody in Tennessee has fallen since 2000 from 10,144 to 6,702 in 2009. In addition, Tennessee has decreased the number of children in long-term foster care, and the rate of children in out-of-home placements is now below the national average. At the same time, recurrences of abuse and neglect in children have decreased, indicating the safety of reform efforts.
The study was conducted to share the examples of states and counties that have been successful in child welfare reform. It outlines the way the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has worked with Youth Villages, its largest private provider, to bring about reform. Casey Family Programs is the nation’s largest operating foundation focused entirely on foster care and improving the child welfare system.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Grants Training in Nashville, TN - October 7-8, 2010

The State of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Research and Strategic Planning Division and Grant Writing USA will present a two-day grants workshop in Nashville, October 7-8, 2010.  In this class you'll learn how to find grants and write winning grant proposals.  This training is applicable to grant seekers across all disciplines.

Click here for complete event details.

Beginning and experienced grant writers from city, county and state agencies as well as nonprofits, K-12, colleges and universities are encouraged to attend.

Multi-enrollment discounts and discounts for Grant Writing USA returning alumni are available.  Tuition payment is not required at the time of enrollment.

Tuition is $425 and includes all materials: workbook and accompanying 420MB resource CD that's packed full of tools and more than 200 sample grant proposals.  Seating is limited, online reservations are necessary.

Complete event details including learning objectives, class location, graduate testimonials and online registration are available here.

Cathy Rittenhouse
Grant Writing USA

Dr. Lisa Webb-Robins
TN Department of Economic and Community Development
Research and Strategic Planning Division