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Huffington Post: The Difference 20 Years Makes for Children

January 21, 2016

Children’s Law Center celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

In Judith Sandalow’s latest Huffington Post blog, she reflects on the changing landscape for children in DC since Children’s Law Center was founded in 1996:

…1996 was dangerous for kids living in DC, and no more so than for those growing up in our poorest wards. Nearly 80 teens were murdered across the city that year, mostly in Wards 5, 7 and 8. The courts saw an increased in child abuse cases. Thousands of children languished in classrooms, making little progress toward gaining the skills necessary to succeed. Only one in two high school students graduated.

She also argues that when it comes to children’s well-being, much of the District’s changes since 1996 have been for the better:

It’s been a tumultuous time, with literally every government agency responsible for children’s well-being subject to federal oversight at one time or another. But because we work with many of these agencies day in and day out, I can tell you that they have made mostly steady – albeit slow – progress.

The good news is that, overall, the status of DC’s children has improved over the past 20 years. DC children born today have a better chance than the previous generation to make it to adulthood.

Children are more likely to be screened for development delays in the youngest years when intervention can do the most good. Our schools are making some progress, especially at the elementary school level. And if something goes wrong and a child can no longer live with her parents, she is much more likely to be placed with a relative than with strangers. As a result, DC has dramatically reduced the number of children living in foster care to about 1,000 children.

Even with this progress, too many of our children are being left behind. This is especially true in Wards 7 and 8. Despite the economic recovery for much of the city, these are the neighborhoods where children continue to live in extreme poverty. And our government agencies are not yet up to the task of protecting our most vulnerable children – let alone help them thrive.

Read more at the link below.