Children & Families

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Family Snapshots: A recent study from the Urban Institute suggests that things are looking up for more of the nation's children.

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The report, "Snapshots of America's Families II" is available from The Urban Institute.

The percentage of children under age 18 living with both their parents edged up from 63 percent to 64 percent last year, compared with 1997, while the percentage living in single-parent households dipped 2 percentage points, to 25 percent, says the report, which was released late last month. The remaining children either live with a parent and his or her spouse, or with neither parent.

On a variety of measures, the environments of children living in two-parent families and higher-income families are generally more positive than those of youngsters living with just one parent or in poorer circumstances, note the authors of the report, "Snapshots of America's Families II." For example, unemployment is higher among single parents, the report says. Among older children living in low-income families, 34 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds were "highly engaged" in school last year, according to their parents, compared with 30 percent in 1997. The percentage of low-income children having serious emotional and behavior problems, as reported by their parents, also fell.

The report is based on the second National Survey of America's Families, which involved 42,000 families of all income levels and was conducted last year by the Washington-based institute. The survey was designed to track the progress of families following the 1996 welfare-reform law.

Family Differences: Children live in a variety of family structures, but teachers might not always feel comfortable talking about nontraditional families in their classrooms.

A new resource is available to elementary school teachers to help them talk about such differences and teach children about family diversity.

"That's a Family!" is an educational film featuring children in various types of families, including those who have been adopted, who have mixed-race, gay, lesbian, or single parents, and those whose grandparents are their guardians. The film is a project of Women's Educational Media, a San Francisco-based company that produces documentary films and videos. The film is the first of a three-part series designed for children, called "Respect for All."

More information is available from Women's Educational Media at (415) 641-4616, or online at

—Linda Jacobson

Vol. 20, Issue 10, Page 13

Published in Print: November 8, 2000, as Children & Families

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