Child Evidence Briefs

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Child Evidence Briefs are authored by invited experts in the field, and are designed to summarize leading scientific evidence to inform policy decisions and improve the lives of children and families.
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Edited by Rebekah Levine Coley, Ph.D., Boston College.

For more information, contact Kelly R. Fisher, Ph.D., Director for Policy, Society for Research in Child Development, at policy@srcd.org.

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Questioning Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: Lessons from Developmental Science on Forensic Interviewing

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Decades of scientific research have demonstrated how to interview children to obtain accurate and complete reports of their experiences, competencies, and attitudes. This evidence highlights the critical need for clear protocols regarding when and how children should be interviewed, including how questions should be phrased. Research also points to the necessity for extensive training of professionals who conduct the interviews.

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Paid Family and Medical Leave Improves the Well-Being of Children and Families

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American families are changing. More children live with two working parents or a single working parent. At the other end of the life cycle, adults are living longer and working longer. These trends have increased the need for paid family and medical leave, which allows workers to fulfill important caregiving responsibilities without having to give up their paid employment.

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Parents’ and Caregivers’ Health Insurance Supports Children’s Healthy Development

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When adults’ health care needs are met, they are better equipped to support their children as they grow and learn. When just one uninsured family member faces high medical costs or untreated conditions, the resulting stress can harm children’s well-being throughout their lives. Lack of health insurance is associated with limited access to needed care, poorer health outcomes, and financial instability, all of which can inhibit children’s healthy development. 

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Creating Universal Tiered Systems to Prevent Child Maltreatment

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Each year, an estimated one in seven children experience physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or emotional maltreatment at the hands of their parents or primary caretakers. While not all of these children are reported to local officials, child welfare agencies confirm the problem is widespread. These agencies document a victimization rate of 9.1 per 1,000 children and 25 per 1,000 children under age 5. Most tragically, close to 1,800 children die each year from maltreatment, three-quarters of whom are under age 3.

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Family-Focused Approaches to Opioid Addiction Improve the Effectiveness of Treatment

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In treating opioid addiction, moving from an individual approach to a family-focused approach to treatment can have lasting benefits for children and parents, and decrease health care costs. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared opioid addiction a public health emergency. Opioids—which include prescription medicines for pain relief, synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, and heroin—lead to an average of 115 deaths by overdose per day in the United States.

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Targeted Policies Can Reduce the Harmful Consequences of Food Insecurity for Children

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Food insecurity, or not having access to enough food to live an active, healthy lifestyle, affects one out of six households with children and nearly one out of three households headed by single mothers in the United States. Food insecurity affects two generations: Its consequences include poor physical and mental health and reduced academic performance in children, as well as compromised mental health and parenting skills in adults.