This paper addresses two questions: How well do teachers understand their current pension plans? And, what do they think about alternative plan structures? The data come from administrative records and a 2006 survey of teachers in Washington State. The results suggest Washington's teachers are fairly knowledgeable about their pensions, though new entrants and mid-career teachers appear to be less knowledgeable than veteran teachers. As for teachers' preferences for plan structure, the survey suggests that when it comes to investing additional retirement savings, a plurality of teachers favor defined contribution plans which offer more portability and choice, but more risk than traditional defined benefit plans. All else equal, teachers newer to the profession are more likely than veteran teachers to favor a defined contribution structure.
The Obama administration has emphasized postsecondary education as the key to its jobs policy, continuing a long-held federal strategy while broadening its goals beyond traditional four-year schools. But disadvantaged students and working adults may still fall through the cracks—and educating college-age youth alone can't meet the nation's employment and social policy objectives. While the focus on college has gone up, federal spending on adult employment and training programs and high school career and technical education has declined. As the nation recovers from the recession, we need to pay more attention to these alternative paths and do more to link education and jobs.
Expert Harry Holzer testifies that 2009 and 2010 have been among the worst years ever recorded for teen unemployment, averaging 25 percent. Prospects for young African Americans are especially grim, with unemployment around 40 percent. But we can help youth into the labor market—during the "Great Recession" and beyond—through an aggressive policy agenda. Existing programs that could be more fully funded are YouthBuild, the Youth Service and Conservation Corps, Year Up, the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, Gateways, and Youth Opportunities. While these would cost federal funds, the costs of not investing in our vulnerable youth will be far greater.
State agencies finance and administer a range of services - from foster care for abused and neglected children to prisons to long-term care of the elderly. How can large public agencies and small community organizations plan better to meet the needs of the people they serve? Traditionally, useful and timely data for planning purposes have been in short supply. Recent research linking data across a number of public agencies has highlighted some significant findings about state services and the people who use them.
Nearly one in five U.S. youths will run away from home before age 18. Almost 30 percent of these youth will do so three or more times, greatly increasing their risk of violence, crime, drugs, prostitution, STDs, and many other problems. Employing new methodology to yield estimates not available elsewhere, this paper follows a nationally representative sample of 12-year olds through their 18th birthday to discover how many youth run away from home, the number of times they ran away, and the age they first run away. Female and black youth are found to run away the most often.
Low high school graduation rates and sharply declining employment rates continue to plague disadvantaged youth, especially young men. We review the evidence base on programs and policies such as youth development for adolescents and young teens; programs seeking to improve educational attainment and employment for in-school youth; and programs that try to "reconnect" those who are out of school and frequently out of work, including public employment programs. We identify a number of programmatic strategies that are promising or even proven, based on rigorous evaluations, for disadvantaged youth with different circumstances.
Much of today’s literature on youth programs emphasizes the importance of evidencebased approaches. The Urban Institute’s evaluation found Reclaiming Futures to be a promising strategy, however, many of the features that may be responsible for the positive system changes seen in the Reclaiming Futures initiative were inspired by practices not yet tested thoroughly by evaluators. This report examines two such components of the Reclaiming Futures initiative: positive youth development and cultural competence.
A shocking percentage of American youth run away from home by age 18, according to a new snapshot of runaways to be published by the Urban Institute, and many do so before turning 14. Roughly half of all youth who leave home without parental permission or knowledge do so more than once, with girls more likely to be repeat runaways.Many runaways become homeless because family reunification is not an option. Other young people end up on the street or in a shelter because they are abandoned by their parents, are forced to leave home, age out of foster care, or are released from the juvenile justice system.
Nearly 15 percent of all households and 39 percent of near-poor households were food insecure in 2008. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp Program) is the cornerstone of federal food assistance programs and serves as the first line of defense against food-related hardship. Using SIPP data, this paper measures SNAP’s effectiveness in reducing food insecurity using an instrumental variables approach to control for selection bias. Our results suggest that SNAP receipt reduces the likelihood of being food insecure by roughly 30 percent and reduces the likelihood of being very food insecure by 20 percent.
In this study, we report the costs and benefits of the Reclaiming Futures initiative. The national evaluation of Reclaiming Futures found strong evidence that the systems change initiative created a foundation for improving substance abuse interventions for youth. Results from the stakeholder surveys found improvements in the target communities in treatment delivery and effectiveness, cooperation and information-sharing among youth service providers, and family involvement in youth care.