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Child Labor in US Agriculture, Metropolitan America, Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Families, and More

Fields of Peril: Child Labor in US Agriculture - This Human Rights Watch report finds child farmworkers as young as 12 often working for 10 or more hours per day, five to seven days a week in grueling and dangerous conditions.  These children typically earn less than minimum wage and drop out of school at four times the national rate.  The report urges changes in age and hour laws in the farm industry to address the problem.

The State of Metropolitan America -  A signature effort of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, this report portrays the demographic and social trends shaping its large metropolitan areas — and discusses what they imply for public policies to secure prosperity for these places and their populations.  Transportation policies, integration of new immigrant communities, a reduction in economic inequality and investments in affordable housing are all needed to promote more efficient and beneficial growth patterns.

Making Residential Energy Efficiency Accessible to Low-Income Iowans - This report from the Iowa Policy Project examines how energy efficiency investments can reduce low-income Iowans’ energy consumption and utility bills, and highlights ways to improve existing energy efficiency programs so they are more accessible to low-income households.  Inefficient appliances coupled with older homes, perhaps in need of structural repair, means that the homes of low-income residents are far less energy-efficient than homes occupied by upper-income households.

Breaking the Broadband Monopoly: How Communities Are Building the Networks They Need - Communities that have invested in publicly owned telecommunication networks have seen tremendous benefits, according to this report from the New Rules Project.  Publicly owned networks tend to offer lower prices for access to the Internet, often forcing other companies to lower rates, a result that creates benefits for the whole community.  Because public entities are directly accountable to citizens, they have a stronger interest in providing good services and upgrading infrastructure than private companies who are structured to maximize profits, not community benefits.

The State of Preschool 2009 - The seventh in a yearly series, this report by the National Institute for Early Education Research found that with the recession, this past year was the first they had seen with a slow down in progress in all three key dimensions that they evaluate — access, quality standards, and resources.  Despite this, enrollment in state-funded pre-K did increase by more than 80,000 children from the 2007-08 year to the 2008-09 school year, although individual states vary greatly on whether they increased or decreased enrollment.

Faith and Family Equality - Examining the 2008 ballot initiative in Arkansas that aimed to ban same-sex adoption, this Center for American Progress report analyzes the efforts of religious groups on both sides of the issue.  It details lessons learned concerning the importance of faith and LGBT alliances that are relevant to states facing upcoming similar fights, including the need to mobilize early, build authentic working partnerships between faith and LGBT groups, create specific faith messaging for different faith traditions, and humanize the issue.

Assets & Opportunity Special Report: The Financial Security of Households with Children -  This Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) report analyzes data on the net worth and asset poverty of households with children, and finds that many families are on financially shaky ground.  Wealth gaps by race, income and gender persist across all households, but are most significant for households with children, own only 70 cents for every $1 in wealth held by all households.  The report urges new policies to promote asset growth for children and families.

Enforcing Immigration Law at the State and Local Levels: A Public Policy Dilemma - This Rand study finds that local and state enforcement of federal immigration laws come with concerns about the potential for racial profiling, strained community relations and improper resource allocation.  Such efforts could hamper state and local law enforcement's ability to investigate other crimes and interfere with its mission to protect and serve all members of the public.

When Investors Buy Up the Neighborhood: Strategies to Prevent Investor Ownership from Causing Neighborhood Decline - With so many foreclosed homes available for pennies on the dollar, unscrupulous investors are buying up huge chunks of neighborhoods — and leaving properties to fester and communities to suffer, according to this PolicyLink report.  It lists dozens of specific policies, legal strategies, financial tools, and regulations that communities can use to combat the potential blight of investor ownership.

Characteristics of US Abortion Patients - Last week the Guttmacher Institute released a new study detailing how various demographics of US abortion patients changed between 2000 and 2008.  The most drastic change occurred in the percentage women who have an abortion who are living under the federal poverty line - a change from 27 to 42%.  Since most women who have an abortion are low-income, the report concludes that public funding of abortion could reduce the economic burden on many women unable to afford those services.

What's in There? The New Health Reform Law and Private Insurance - As part of an ongoing series to explore the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, this Alliance for Health Reform briefing deals with how the new health reform law affects access to private coverage. A range of specific provisions are covered, including the new federal high-risk pools, tax credits for small businesses, health insurance exchanges, the individual mandate, and employer obligations. The law’s provisions governing private health insurance mark a dramatic change from past practice, and much attention has been paid by opposing sides to the potential implementation and legal issues.