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Happy anniversary to the Center!

This week marked the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research’s 42nd anniversary. Thank you all for sticking with us and being loyal readers of Friday@Five! If you have any comments, suggestions, or feedback on Friday@Five or the work of the Center more generally, I’m all ears! Just email me at mosborne@ednc.org.

Dropping Knowledge

About one in five undergraduate students were raising children in 2015-16, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The report looked at the characteristics of student parents and the federal programs available to support these students. Here are a few findings:

  • 56% of undergraduate student parents in 2015-16 had a child age five or younger
  • Half of student parents reported paying child care costs while in school at an average of $490 a month
  • 52% of student parents left school without a degree compared to 32% of students without children in 2009 (most recently available data)

The report also found that colleges are not adequately informing student parents about available resources. Students with children may be eligible to increase their federal loans to cover child care expenses, but two-thirds of college websites reviewed by GAO did not mention this. GAO recommended that the US Department of Education encourage schools to inform students about this eligibility, although according to the report, the Department of Education disagreed with this recommendation.

In the Weeds

Last week, Cambridge University Press published a study on Family Connects, a postnatal nurse home visiting program in Durham. The randomized control trial, conducted by researchers from Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy, and Center for Child and Family Health, found that for every $1 in program costs, there was a reduction of $3.17 in medical billing costs as a result of less emergency medical care required for families with children 0 to 24 months of age. The reduction in medical billing costs came to an average of $2,217 per case.

For the study, families of all births in two Durham County hospitals from July 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010 were randomly sorted into treatment and control groups. The treatment group received Family Connects services, which typically involved 1-3 home visits with a registered nurse when the infant was between 3 and 12 weeks and connection to other community resources as necessary. Prior research demonstrated the positive effects of Family Connects for infants between 0 and 12 months, and this study shows those impacts last through 24 months of age. Importantly, the reduction of emergency medical care utilization was observed across almost all subgroups.

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