Health and Nutrition

Myth Busters: National Reentry and Medicaid

The Interagency Reentry Council, led by Attorney General Holder, produces a series of Reentry Myth Busters that clarify existing federal policies that affect formerly incarcerated individuals and their families.

National School Breakfast Week

Today marks the beginning of National School Breakfast Week (March 4-8), which serves as a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness of the many ways in which the School Breakfast Program (SBP) improves the health and nutrition of America’s schoolchildren.  The program provides nearly 13 million children of all economic backgrounds a well-balanced, healthy meal at the start of each school day, helping to ensure that students are alert and productive in the classroom.

Media-Smart Youth Teen Leaders Program

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is accepting applications from teens and young adults ages 15-20 for its Media-Smart Youth® Teen Leaders Program.

We R Native. Who R U? Submit Your Story!

Community involvement is something that can start small and make a big impact.  American Indian and Alaska Native youth 13-21 years old are encouraged to share what makes you HIV aware and how you protect yourself and others.  By sharing with one another, we can teach each other lessons about self-confidence, self-respect, pride, courage, and spirituality.

Report on Well-Being of Nation’s Children Released

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (Forum) has released its annual report, “America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being.” This year's report continues morethan a decade of dedication and collaboration by agencies across the federal government to advance our understanding of our Nation's children and what may be needed to bring them a better tomorrow.

Youth in Foster Care Stay Active and Connected

The Transition to Adult Living program began in 2011 in Utah as a way to provide young people with assistance as they transition from foster care to adult living. The program helps young adults find housing, employment, on-the-job training, crisis support and medical and mental health care as they age out of the foster care system, and provides youth with mentoring, self-esteem building, personal future planning, caregiver and family networking, education and training in basic life-skills.

Stopping the Summer Slide with Energy Express

Under the leadership of the West Virginia University Extension 4-H Youth Development, Energy Express is a research based summer reading and nutrition program for children living in rural and low-income West Virginia. AmeriCorps has been Energy Express’s largest funder and source of volunteers since 1995. According to one of its youth participants, Energy Express is “awesome and fun.”

Afterschool Programs

Afterschool programs (sometimes called OST or Out-of-School Time programs) serve children and youth of all ages. These programs encompass a broad range of focus areas including academic support, mentoring, positive youth development, arts, sports and recreation, apprenticeships, workforce development programs, and programs for opportunity youth (i.e., youth not in schools or the workforce) and homeless youth.

The activities children and youth engage in outside of school hours are critical to their overall development, highlighting the need for quality afterschool programs in all communities. The demand for afterschool programs is strong, with nearly 10.2 million children and youth who participate in afterschool programs annually,1 across 10 million in summer camps and 6 million in 4-H programs, alone.2

Federal agencies, state-level resources, community organizations, and local and national philanthropies can provide support and resources to build, sustain, and ensure access to high-quality afterschool programs that can help promote positive outcomes for youth. Explore the articles and links on this topic to learn more about afterschool programs. Resources are also provided to help navigate challenges in planning and implementing afterschool programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resources

Preparing K-12 School Administrators for a Safe Return to School in Fall 2020
This webpage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides practical guidance intended to aid school administrators as they consider how to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of students, teachers, other school staff, their families, and communities in fall 2020.

Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps
This webpage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides practical guidance and resources for camp staff to use while planning and implementing camps safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Afterschool & Summer in the Time of COVID-19
This webpage from the Afterschool Alliance provides information on how afterschool programs nationwide are responding to the impact of COVID-19 and offers a Statewide Afterschool Networks Resources map for each state.

Afterschool Alliance
This website from the Afterschool Alliance provides information, resources, and timely resources on planning for, implementing, and funding afterschool programs.

Afterschool Alliance Research
This webpage from the Afterschool Alliance provides reports, issue briefs, fact sheets and other resources that show how afterschool programs are keeping children and youth safe, inspiring learning, and helping working families across the country.

Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 (PDF, 4 pages)
This factsheet from the Afterschool Alliance presents findings from the first of a series of surveys meant to “take the pulse” of afterschool programs in the U.S.

National Afterschool Association
The National Afterschool Association website provides afterschool professionals a wide range of tools and resources designed to promote professional development and strengthen afterschool programs.

References

1 Afterschool Alliance, 2014
2 Yohalem, Pittman, & Edwards, 2010

LGBT

Sexual orientation and gender are important aspects of a young person’s identity. Understanding and expressing sexual orientation and gender and developing related identities are typical development tasks that vary across children and youth. For example, some youth may be unsure of their sexual orientation, whereas others have been clear about it since childhood and have expressed it since a young age.1 Expressing and exploring gender identity and roles is also a part of normal development.2 The process of understanding and expressing one’s sexual orientation and gender identity is unique to each individual. It is not a one-time event and personal, cultural, and social factors may influence how one expresses their sexual orientation and gender identity.3

Unfortunately, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experience various challenges because of how others respond to their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. This is also true for youth who are questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, or may be perceived as LGBT or gender variant by others.4 A landmark 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report reviewed research on the health of LGBT individuals, including youth. Although this research is limited, the IOM report found that “the disparities in both mental and physical health that are seen between LGBT and heterosexual and non-gender-variant youth are influenced largely by their experiences of stigma and discrimination during the development of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”5 These negative experiences include high rates of physical and emotional bias and violence; rejection by families and peers; and inadequate supports in schools, employment, and communities because of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

Stress associated with these experiences can put LGBT young people at risk for negative health outcomes. Research shows that due to these environmental challenges, LGBT youth are at risk for negative health outcomes and are more likely to attempt suicide, experience homelessness, and use illegal drugs.6 These issues may also contribute to anxiety, depressive symptoms, and feelings of isolation. Youth who express their gender in ways that vary from societal expectations for their perceived sex or gender are at risk for high levels of childhood physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.7 They are also at risk for school victimization.8 As a result, they may have poorer well-being than lesbian, gay, and bisexual peers whose gender expression is more closely aligned with societal expectations.9

To date, most research on LGBT youth has focused on the risk factors and disparities they experience compared with youth who are not LGBT. However, emerging research on resiliency and protective factors offers a strength-based focus on LGBT youth well-being. Addressing LGBT-related stigma, discrimination, and violence; building on the strengths of LGBT youth; and fostering supports such as family acceptance and safe, affirming environments in schools and other settings will help improve outcomes for LGBT young people. Federal and local policies and practices increasingly acknowledge and focus on the experiences and needs of LGBT youth. Numerous national advocacy and other organizations are also giving greater attention to LGBT youth in their work.10 Fostering safe, affirming communities and youth-serving settings such as schools for all youth requires efforts to address the challenges described here. At the same time, it is also important to acknowledge and build on the strengths, resilience, and factors that protect LGBT youth from risk, such as connection to caring adults and peers and family acceptance.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Health Risks Among Sexual Minority Youth
This website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides information on protective factors and data related to health risks and sexual minority youth.

1 Institute of Medicine, 2011; Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014
2 Institute of Medicine, 2011; Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014
3 Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014
4 Gender variant youth are not necessarily LGBT. In fact, any youth who does not fit typical social expectations for his or her mannerisms, behavior, or choice of clothing based on birth-assigned gender, for example, can be considered “gender variant.” This does not mean the youth is lesbian, gay, or bisexual—or identifies as a gender different from what he or she was assigned at birth (i.e., transgender).
5 Institute of Medicine, 2011, p. 142
6 Hunter & Schaecher, 1987; Reis, 1999; Reis & Saewyc, 1999; Ray, 2006; Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2009; SAMHSA, 2014
7 Roberts, Rosario, Corliss, Koenen, & Austin, 2012
8 Toomey, Ryan, Diaz, & Russell, 2010
9 Rieger & Savin-Williams, 2012
10 American Association of School Administrators et al., n.d.; National Association of School Nurses, 2003; National Association of School Psychologists, 2006

Homelessness and Runaway

Homelessness is a major social concern in the United States, and youth may be the age group most at risk of becoming homeless.1 The number of youth who have experienced homelessness varies depending on the age range, timeframe, and definition used, but sources estimate that between 500,000 and 2.8 million youth are homeless within the United States each year.2

Youth run away or are homeless for a range of reasons, but involvement in the juvenile justice or child welfare systems, abuse, neglect, abandonment, and severe family conflict have all been found to be associated with youth becoming homeless. These youth are vulnerable to a range of negative experiences including exploitation and victimization. Runaway and homeless youth have high rates of involvement in the juvenile justice system, are more likely to engage in substance use and delinquent behavior, be teenage parents, drop out of school, suffer from sexually transmitted diseases, and meet the criteria for mental illness.3 Experiences of unaccompanied homeless youth are different from those who experience homelessness with their families. While negative experiences persist for youth who are homeless with their families, their experiences may not vary drastically from youth living in poverty.4 Studies have also found distinct variability in outcomes experienced by homeless youth, suggesting that youth experience homelessness differently.5

Providing timely and direct interventions to homeless and runaway youth is important to protect them from the risks of living on the streets and to support positive youth development6, yet despite the risks and needs of these youth, few appear to know of, and access, support services.7 Even more critical is addressing the family/parental needs to prevent youth and/or their families from becoming homeless and addressing their behavioral health needs through comprehensive methods that involve both youth and their families. 

1 Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007
2 Cooper, 2006
3 Walsh & Donaldson, 2010; Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007
4 Samuels, Shinn, & Buckner, 2010
5 Huntington, Buckner, & Bassuk, 2008
6 Walsh & Donaldson, 2010
7 Pergamit & Ernst, 2010