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W.K. Kellogg Foundation;
As the country becomes more diverse, schools that successfully engage all families will transform learning and leadership. This executive summary captures "takeways" from partnerships forged by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to create environments where teachers, families and community members can effectively collaborate and share power.
Children At Risk;
Texas is beginning to fall behind when it comes to student success and job-readiness. Quality child care can improveboth outcomes, yet our state is currently lacking in access to quality child care. This can put the Texas economic miraclein peril. Building on current efforts across the state, Texas can pave the way for success in the 21st century by making strategic investments to:
Increase the number of child care providers certified quality throughTexas Rising Star.
Build a path toward school-readiness.
Ensure that child care teachers are adequately trained andcompensated.
Know the cost for quality child care and reimburse accordingly.
Make child care businesses more sustainable.
Children At Risk;
The Texas Child Care Desert Map is an interactive tool to explore the local availability of child care across the state of Texas. Does the supply of child care in your area meet the demand for services among children of working parents?
The map shows four different types of child care deserts, including: Child care deserts, Subsidized child care deserts, Texas Rising Star (TRS) deserts, and TRS Level 4 deserts.
This brief uses Texas Department of Public Safety data to measure the conviction and arrest rates of illegal immigrants by crime. In Texas in 2015, the criminal conviction and arrest rates for immigrants were well below those of native-born Americans. Moreover, the conviction and arrest rates for illegal immigrants were lower than those for native-born Americans. This result holds for most crimes.
Children At Risk;
In recent years, Texas advocates, researchers, child care providers, public officials, and other stakeholders have been working to improve the quality of child care and access to quality child care, especially for low-income families. While there is no silver bullet, using a Shared Sefvices framework to strengthen systems at the provider level is a promising concept. A Shared Services approach focuses on sharing skilled staff and resources to provide business and pedagogical leadership among a network of center- and/or home-based providers. In at least 28 states, and more than two dozen communities, early care and education leaders are using a Shared Services approach to help tackle long-standing challenges such as raising and sustaining program quality, increasing teacher compensation, and implementing sound business practices. This preliminary brief explores various models of Shared Services and special considerations for the state of Texas.
Raising Blended Learners is a statewide initiative to seed and scale personalized learning across Texas in an effort to improve student achievement across diverse demographics, particularly among schools and districts with persistent achievement gaps.
As part of this initiative, Raise Your Hand Texas commissioned FSG to conduct a 4-year evaluation of the program's impact on students and schools and the success of the initiative as a whole. Last year, FSG wrote about the 2015-2016 planning and selection year of Raising Blended Learners, how the program was designed, and how the planning process was experienced by participants.
In Year 1 Evaluation Report, we share our developmental evaluation of the 5 demonstration sites to understand the early stages of how models are being implemented, how sites are defining success, and how early success and challenges are being experienced.
Americans bear a large and growing share of their health care costs in the form of high deductibles and insurance premiums, as well as copayments and, sometimes, coinsurance for physician office visits and hospitalizations. Historically, the health care system has not made it easy for people to find out how much their care will cost them out of pocket. But, in recent years, insurers, state governments, employers and other entities have been trying to make price information more easily available to individuals and families. Are Americans trying to find out about health care prices today? Do they want more information? What sources would they trust to deliver it?
This nationally representative research finds 50 percent of Americans have tried to find health care price information before getting care, including 20 percent who have tried to compare prices across multiple providers. Representative surveys in four states— New York, Texas, Florida and New Hampshire—show higher percentages of residents in Texas, Florida and New Hampshire have tried to find price information and have compared prices than New York residents and Americans overall. This variation suggests factors at the state level might be influencing how many people try to find out about health care costs. Nationally and in those four states, more than half of people who compared prices report saving money. Most Americans overall think it is important for their state governments to provide comparative price information. But we found limited awareness that doctors' prices vary and limited awareness that hospitals' prices vary.
Public Agenda conducted this research with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New York State Health Foundation. The findings are based on a nationally representative survey of 2,062 adults, ages 18 and older, and a set of representative surveys in four states: one survey of 802 adults in New York, one of 808 adults in Texas, one of 819 adults in Florida and one of 826 adults in New Hampshire. The surveys were conducted from July through September 2016 by telephone, including cell phones, and online.
Environmental Working Group;
As the southern Great Plains get hotter and drier, is federal policy that encourages farmers not to adapt to climate change leading to another Dust Bowl?
That's the troubling question raised by a new EWG report that shows how a provision in the federal crop insurance program provides a strong financial incentive for growers to plant the same crops in the same way, year in and year out, regardless of changing climate conditions. What's worse, this program is focused on the same southern Great Plains counties hit hardest by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the worst man-made environmental disaster in American history.
The federal crop insurance program guarantees farmers' earnings from their crops won't fall below a percentage of their usual income. The percentage is set based on a multi-year average of a farmer's actual crop yields. Averaging good and bad years grounds the program in reality.
But a provision called the Actual Production History Yield Exclusion – snuck into the 2014 Farm Bill during conference negotiations – allows growers to drop bad years from their average crop yield calculations. The government simply pretends these bad years didn't happen. In some cases, more than 15 bad years can be thrown out when calculating the average yield, resulting in artificially inflated insurance payouts.
It makes sense for crop insurance to give growers a break if they're occasionally hit by one or two bad years, but keeping growers on a treadmill of failed crops and insurance payouts is foolish. Helping farmers adapt to the new weather conditions would be considerably better, and was exactly what helped growers survive the Dust Bowl and return to productivity.
The southern Great Plains are getting hotter and drier. Drought has been common over the last 10 years and forecasts show the number of days above 100 degrees quadrupling by 2050. Implementing conservation practices to adapt to changing climate conditions is vital for growers who want to stay in business.
Some, but not enough, growers are already adopting conservation techniques in this region. Savings from ending the misguided yield exclusion policy could be used to help more growers change the way they farm to face the challenges posed by a changing climate.
Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice;
In 2014, the University of Minnesota's Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice began a multi-state study that was tasked with exploring nationwide variations in the practices and policies of probation violations and revocations. A distinctive finding that grew out of the Robina Institute's work in two Texas counties was that probation supervision fees play a major role throughout the state. Probationers are required as one of 25 standard conditions to pay supervision fees, and—depending on the case— they may have to pay additional program fees, fines, and restitution. Texas probation departments depend on supervision fees for a large share of their operating budgets, and they are responsible for collecting those fees. Because payment of fees is a formal condition of probation, probationers may be sanctioned if they fall delinquent. Additionally, their probation terms may be extended to allow more time to pay, or early termination may be denied. In interviews, some probationers believed they could be revoked to jail or prison for failure to pay supervision fees. However, we heard from probation officers that probationers were not revoked solely for fees. The officers told us that nonpayment may be one reason probationers are revoked, but only when combined with other violations.
The Robina Institute was encouraged by other probation chiefs in Texas to add additional counties to our study. To understand the interaction between probation and criminal justice fees in greater depth, the Robina Institute conducted a mixed methods study with 4 probation jurisdictions in Texas. Quantitative data was analyzed to examine the average amount of fees ordered, the breakdown of the fees ordered, and the percent of probationers who were current and delinquent on their fees. The quantitative analysis also examined the outcomes for those who were delinquent on their fees. Qualitative interviews were conducted with probationers to understand how fees impacted them and their experience of probation, as well as how they handled paying their fees. Probation officers were also interviewed to examine how fees were utilized and how officers collected fees.
This report highlights some of the findings from qualitative interviews with over 50 probation officers and 46 probationers in 4 probation jurisdictions. A separate report highlights our quantitative findings; future Robina Institute publications will explore the quantitative and qualitative data in greater depth, as well as legal issues associated with the imposition and collection of supervision fees.
The first section of this report presents findings from the focus groups with the probation officers. The second section focuses on findings from the probationer focus groups.
Center for Health Policy at Brookings;
The health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were intended to broaden health insurance coverage by making it relatively easy for the uninsured, armed with income-related federal subsidies, to choose health plans that met their needs from an array of competing options. The further hope was that competition among health plans on the exchanges would lead to lower costs and higher value for consumers, because inefficient, low-value plans would lose out in the competitive market place. This study sought to understand the diverse experience in five states under the ACA in order to gain insights for improving competition in the private health insurance industry and the implementation of the ACA.
In spring 2016, the insurance marketplaces had been operating for nearly three full years. There were numerous press stories of plans' decisions to enter or leave selected states or market areas within states and to narrow provider networks by including fewer choices among hospitals, medical specialists, and other providers. There were also beginning to be stories of insurer requests for significant premium increases. However, there was no clear understanding of how common these practices were, nor how and why practices differed across carriers, markets, and state regulatory settings.
This project used the ACA Implementation Research Network to conduct field research in California, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas. In each state, expert field researchers engaged directly with marketplace stakeholders, including insurance carriers, provider groups, state regulators, and consumer engagement organizations, to identify and understand their various decisions. This focus included an effort to understand why carriers choose to enter or exit markets and the barriers they faced, how provider networks were built, and how state regulatory decisions affected decision-making. Ultimately, it sought to find where and why certain markets are successful and competitive and how less competitive markets might be improved.
The study of five states was not intended to provide statistically meaningful generalizations about the functioning of the marketplace exchanges. Rather, it was intended to accomplish two other objectives. First, the study was designed to generate hypotheses about the development and evolution of the exchanges that might be tested with "harder" data from all the exchanges. Second, it sought to describe the potentially idiosyncratic nature of the marketplaces in each of the five states. Political and economic circumstances may differ substantially across markets. Policymakers and market participants need to appreciate the nuances of different local settings if programs are to be successful. What works in Michigan may not work in Texas and vice versa. Field research of this sort can give researchers and policymakers insight into how idiosyncratic local factors matter in practice.
In brief, our five states had four years of experience in the open enrollment periods from 2014 through 2017. The states array themselves in a continuum of apparent success in enhancing and maintaining competition among insurers. California and Michigan appear to have had success in nurturing insurer competition, in at least the urban areas of their states. Florida, North Carolina, and Texas were less successful. This divergence is recent, however. As recently as the 2015 and 2016 open enrollment periods, all of the states had what appeared to be promising, if not always robust, insurance competition. Large changes occurred in the run-up to the 2017 open enrollment period.
As two of the nation's leading nonprofit small business lenders, Accion, The US Network (Accion) and Opportunity Fund help entrepreneurs thrive by providing affordable capital and support services so they can start a new business endeavor or grow an existing enterprise.
Accion and Opportunity Fund came together to develop a first-of-its-kind national longitudinal study of the impact of small business loans in the United States. With lead funding from The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and with support from S&P Global, the study aims to uncover the qualitative impacts of lending on individuals, their businesses, and their broader communities. This study, conducted by Harder+Company Community Research, builds on the body of previous evaluation work that showed small businesses that receive loans create and retain jobs, increase revenue, and have high business survival rates. Following a cohort of more than 500 borrowers across the country, this study examines how business owners define success and how access to finance improves their entrepreneurial goals, financial health, and quality of life. By focusing on the longer-term impacts of small business lending while examining variations due to business type, geography, and other factors, the study will help deepen our understanding of how mission-based business lending impacts individuals, families, and communities.
This report includes preliminary findings collected during this first phase of the study. While entrepreneurs reported perceived and actual impact to date, these changes will be tracked over time to examine the ways in which they are or are not sustained, and how these changes compare across and within lending regions.
University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work, Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault;
Currently, there are approximately 79,000 minor and youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas.
Currently, there are approximately 234,000 workers who are victims of labor trafficking in Texas.
Currently, there arean estimated 313,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas.
Minor and youth sex trafficking costs the state of Texas approximately $6.6 billion. Traffickers exploit approximately $600 million from victims of labor trafficking in Texas.
Though human trafficking is widespread in geographically large states with large urban centers like Texas, the true scope of this hidden crime is largely unconfirmed as data on human trafficking are difficult to ascertain. Existing data gathered in anti-trafficking efforts focus almost exclusively on identified victims, shedding light on only a fraction of the problem. The first phase of the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project of Texas focused on providing empiricallygrounded data as a benchmark about the extent of human trafficking across the state. The following three primary research questions guided our data collection efforts, which included queries of existing databases, interviews, focus groups, and web-based surveys.
1.What is the prevalence of human trafficking in Texas?
2.What is the economic impact of human trafficking in Texas?
3.What is our understanding of human trafficking in Texas?
The findings in this report were derived using a multi-methods approach to quantify the prevalence and economic impact of human trafficking in Texas. Higher-than-average risk industry and community segments were chosen for sex and labor markets. We defined community segments asgroups of people considered to be at higher-than-average risk of trafficking because of risk indicators found in trafficking cases (e.g. homelessness). More specifically, rather than attempting to establish prevalence of trafficking among the 27.4 million people living in Texas, for the purposes of demonstrating our methodology, establishing some benchmarks on human trafficking prevalence and economic impact estimates, and providing a concrete example of our planned activities moving forward, victimization rates were applied to a select few community segments that are at higher-than-average risk of trafficking.The methodology has addressed the critical industry and community segments to accurately estimate prevalencewhile reducing overlap between the chosen segments.