Assessing the Acute Effects of Exposure to Community Violence Among Adolescents: A Strategic Comparison Approach

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pretrial Processes: Cross-Jurisdiction Patterns, Pathways, and Perspectives from the Pretrial Justice Collaborative


Financial Aid Barriers for Students Impacted by the Justice System

Supporting Social-Emotional Development in Preschoolers: Implementation Evaluation of the Positive Emotional Development and Learning Skills (PEDALS) Program

How Access to Federal Student Loans Could Change under the College Cost Reduction Act


While Number of People Age 65 and Older Increased in Almost All Metro Areas, Young Population Declined in Many Metro Areas From 2020 to 2023

'Spice' Use Motivations, Experiences, and Repercussions among Veterans of the United States Armed Forces


Many States Lack Information to Monitor Maltreatment in Residential Facilities for Children in Foster Care

Declines in Telemedicine Use Among Adults: United States, 2021 and 2022

Preteen Suicide Risk Screening in the Pediatric Outpatient Setting: A Clinical Pathway

July 3, 2024


This paper examines whether exposure to spatially proximate homicide affects norms, attitudes, and the adaptive strategies adolescents take to insulate themselves from violent victimization. Drawing on survey data from a large sample of urban youth, the authors assess the impact of homicides occurring within a one-mile radius of respondents’ homes on a variety of psychosocial outcomes. They exploit random variation in the timing of survey administration to compare the survey responses of youths who were exposed to a homicide in the immediate vicinity of their homes in the one-month period leading up the administration of the survey with students who did not experience a homicide near their homes during that period but would the following month. This strategic comparison approach minimizes the confounding influence of endogenous processes that funnel children and families into places where homicides tend to concentrate. The general conclusion is that youth who are exposed to community violence, either directly or vicariously, fare worse on a variety of domains. Emerging research indicates that acute and episodic forms of violence, such as homicides occurring in close vicinity to youth's homes, are especially salient for youth outcomes.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

Fairness and equal treatment are long-standing ideals in the American legal system, yet Black and Hispanic communities remain disproportionately affected by the legal system. Decision points during the pretrial period—including arrest, bond setting, and pretrial release and supervision conditions—are particularly important from a policy-change perspective, as these are all opportunities for racially disparate outcomes to emerge. This report presents findings from a multimethod study of racial and ethnic disparities in the pretrial processes of seven jurisdictions across the country. Overall, the study found that racial and ethnic disparities were common across jurisdictions at the point of entry into the legal system (as seen, for example, in disparities in arrest rates) and in charging and release-condition decisions (for example, release with or without supervision while awaiting trial). Even when factoring in individual and case characteristics including charge severity and risk level, as was done in two jurisdictions in this study, disparities persisted. In one jurisdiction where it was possible to analyze the whole course of the pretrial process through path analysis, disparities were found to accumulate across pretrial decision points, culminating in longer incarceration sentences. In particular, disparities emerging at the charging stage appeared to be important mediators that contributed to overall sentence-length disparities. However, even when holding charging factors constant, disparities in bond amounts and pretrial detention continued to contribute to overall sentence-length disparities for Black and Hispanic individuals, compared with White individuals. Taken together, these results suggest that mitigating disparities at earlier stages in the pretrial process may help mitigate disparities at the point of sentencing. The authors offered ideas for potential strategies to mitigate disparities in that process. These ideas included reducing the number of people who come into contact with the legal system through arrest reduction/diversion and community-based supportive services, considering a person’s full circumstances in making release-condition decisions, diversifying legal system staffing, establishing stronger communication channels between different areas of the legal system, improving translation services for non-native English speakers, and improving data quality and the monitoring of disparities.

Source: MDRC


Access to high quality postsecondary education offers people who are impacted by the justice system key opportunities for personal and career development. However, the cost of postsecondary education is oftentimes a barrier to enrollment. While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Simplification Act restored federal Pell Grant eligibility for students with drug convictions and who are currently incarcerated, Pell Grants often don’t cover the full cost of attendance. Factors in state policy that disqualify many students impacted by the justice system from state financial aid programs generally fall into one of two categories: incarceration and criminal convictions. Key points include that (1) 65 state financial aid programs do not contain restrictions in state policy that limit access for justice-impacted individuals; (2) state policy makes 19 state financial aid programs unavailable to students who are incarcerated; and (3) while the FAFSA Simplification Act removed drug conviction as a disqualifying factor for Pell Grant eligibility, the restriction exists in state policy for eight state aid programs (Florida is not one of the eight states). The report also examines other disqualifying factors for state financial aid. For example, in Florida, a felony conviction disqualifies an individual’s eligibility for the Bright Futures Scholarship program.

Source: Education Commission of the States

Though early childhood educators have a long history of emphasizing learning through play to foster the development of the whole child, including social-emotional competencies, the proliferation of formal social-emotional learning curricula first seen in kindergarten to 12th grade has expanded to prekindergarten. This report presents initial implementation findings of the Positive Emotional Development and Learning Skills (PEDALS) program, a social-emotional learning program in prekindergarten classrooms in Western and Central New York and Southeast Michigan. PEDALS is a two-year program that combines the Second Step Early Learning social-emotional learning curriculum with comprehensive supports for teachers and site directors. Preliminary findings suggest that many preconditions for effective social-emotional learning instruction were met. This implementation study is a part of a larger evaluation of PEDALS that also will estimate the effect of the program on children's social-emotional learning and executive functioning skills. Key findings include that (1) educators perceived the Second Step curriculum, PEDALS training, and coaching support very favorably; (2) a large majority of educators strongly believed in approaches or strategies to support children's social-emotional development and had a strong sense of self-efficacy for supporting this development; (3) preliminary implementation findings based on surveys and observations suggest that educators are generally implementing the social-emotional curriculum as intended; (4) in observations, teachers were highly skilled in implementing Second Step lessons and used most strategies consistently in daily interactions with children; however, teachers used strategies less consistently when interacting with children having a difficult time or in an interpersonal conflict; (5) half or fewer of site directors strongly agreed that they provided support for Second Step classroom implementation (e.g., providing teachers time to talk about use of Second Step, providing all teachers access to Second Step training), or certain site-level supports (e.g., committing to improving PEDALS implementation site-wide, sustainability planning), but more than half of site directors indicated that they engaged in several other site-level practices to support PEDALS (e.g., including a statement about social-emotional learning in the site's mission or vision statement, using a social-emotional development screening assessment); (6) educators identified PEDALS training and coaching, resources, and overall approach to developing children's social-emotional skills as the factors that provided the most support to PEDALS implementation; they identified some contextual factors, such as children's challenging behavior and lack of teacher planning time, as the factors that most hindered implementation; and (7) preliminary findings suggest that many preconditions for effective social-emotional learning instruction were met.

Source: RAND Corporation

Earlier this year, the College Cost Reduction Act (CCRA), a broad set of reforms to federal higher education programs that includes new limits on what students can borrow in the student loan program, was approved in committee in January 2024 and now awaits consideration before the full U.S. House of Representatives. The bill replaces the current set of annual student loan limits that vary by students’ circumstances and sets the limits to the national median cost of attendance by program of study. The bill eliminates the Parent and Grad PLUS loan programs that allow parents of dependent undergraduates and graduate students to borrow up to the full cost of attendance at each institution, with no total limit. The CCRA also establishes new total borrowing caps: $50,000 for undergraduates and $100,000 and $150,000 for graduate and professional students, respectively. Advocacy groups have argued that the CCRA’s loan limits will restrict access to higher education and will cause students and families to take out more costly private loans. This study analyzes data from the 2019–20 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study to compare the CCRA’s loan limits with recent borrowing patterns to assess which students could gain access to additional loans and which groups may have their borrowing constrained to evaluate advocacy groups’ claims and help policymakers weigh the trade-offs in reforming loan limits. The authors found that the CCRA’s annual limits are at least double what the median federal loan borrower among dependent undergraduates takes out. Only 6.3% and 6.9% of dependent undergraduates pursuing associate’s and bachelor’s degrees borrowed more than the CCRA’s proposed limits for those degrees, respectively. Dependent undergraduates pursuing certificates (18.8%) and dependent students pursuing bachelor’s degrees (16.7%) are more likely than other undergraduates to have exceeded the estimate for the CCRA’s annual and aggregate loan limits, respectively. Independent students pursuing bachelor’s degrees are the most likely group of undergraduates to be constrained by the CCRA’s proposed limits; 23.2% took out more than the CCRA’s aggregate $50,000 limit. Graduate and professional students are more likely than undergraduates to be affected by the CCRA’s annual and aggregate loan limits. About one in five master’s degree students would be required to reduce what they borrow annually. The effects will be even more pronounced for students pursuing professional degrees, especially those in medicine and other health care professions.

Source: Urban Institute


The population age 65 and over increased in all but one (Eagle Pass, TX) of the nation’s 387 metro areas, while the population of children declined in many metro areas from April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2023. The U.S. Census Bureau today released July 1, 2023, population estimates for U.S. metro areas by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin. An examination of changes in the age make-up of the population from April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2023 revealed notable growth in the older adult population, particularly when compared to changes in the population of children. The five fastest growing metro areas for the older population (age 65 and older, by percent change) were Myrtle Beach, SC (23.1%), Wilmington, NC (18.4%), Raleigh, NC (18.3%), College Station, TX (17.6%), and Austin, TX (17.3%). The five fastest growing metro areas for working age population (age 15 to 64, by percent change) were The Villages, FL (19.1%), St. George, UT (14.3%), Lakeland, FL (14.3%), Provo, UT (11.4%) and Myrtle Beach, SC (11.1%).

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau

The potential for synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) to function as an alternative to marijuana without the same risk of a positive urinalyses led to claims of pervasive military SC use. Case studies confirm use among veterans, but no study has adequately explored SC use in the military using detailed interview data. Interviews were conducted with 318 justice-involved veterans. Recruitment was attempted with all participants in eight veterans treatment courts in three U.S. states (54.9% of 579 eligible veterans); SC use was reported by 65 participants (21.3%). Major emergent themes indicated SCs were perceived as unpleasant, overly powerful, and a poor substitute for marijuana. Further, habitual use was rare as many chose not to reuse it after initial negative experiences. Few indicated that the perception that SCs would not appear on routine military urinalyses enabled their use. Further, veterans were aware of the changing drug composition and feared bad batches. This suggests that routine military drug testing did not motivate individuals to use SCs habitually as a marijuana replacement; however, veterans’ negative interpretation of SC effects contributed to this outcome.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs


States oversee residential facilities, and the federal Administration for Children and Families provides funding and oversight to states for children in foster care who meet certain eligibility requirements. Policymakers, news media, and advocacy groups have raised concerns about the effectiveness of oversight efforts to protect children in these settings. This report assesses how states monitor child maltreatment that occurs in residential facilities through surveys of each state’s child welfare agency. The authors found that many states reported missing or incomplete information in key areas that could support enhanced oversight of residential facilities for children, although collecting and sharing this information is not required by federal law. Sixteen states could not identify patterns of maltreatment in residential facilities within their state. Thirty-two states had limited awareness of maltreatment that occurred across chains of residential facilities operating in multiple states. States reported challenges monitoring the safety of children placed in out-of-state residential facilities, though many states reported placing few, if any, children in out-of-state facilities. Thirteen states did not consistently report to the national maltreatment database whether children who experienced maltreatment were living in a residential facility. Florida was noted to have no deficiencies in any of the categories assessed. The authors made several recommendations for the federal Administration for Children and Families to work with states to improve data collection and maltreatment monitoring.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General

This report examines changes in telemedicine use among U.S. adults between 2021 and 2022 by selected sociodemographic and geographic characteristics. Data from the 2021 and 2022 National Health Interview Survey were used to assess changes between these 2 years in the percentage of adults who used telemedicine in the previous 12 months, by sex, age, race and Hispanic origin, family income, education, region of residence, urbanization level, and health insurance coverage. Overall, the percentage of adults who used telemedicine in the past 12 months decreased from 37.0% in 2021 to 30.1% in 2022. This pattern was observed across several sociodemographic and geographic characteristics, such as sex, family income, education, region, and urbanization level. Women, adults with a college degree or higher, and adults living in more urban areas were all more likely to use telemedicine in 2022. In 2021 and 2022, uninsured adults ages 18–64 were less likely to use telemedicine compared with those who had private or public insurance, while adults age 65 and older who had Medicare only were less likely to use telemedicine compared with those with other types of insurance. However, for both age groups, telemedicine use decreased from 2021 to 2022 for all insurance types except public coverage for adults ages 18–64.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In the United States 14.5% of children aged 9-10 have experienced suicidal thoughts and behaviors, including 1.3% with a suicide attempt. American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines call for universal suicide risk screening of youth aged 12+ years during preventative healthcare visits, and screening in preteens aged 8-11 years when clinically indicated. However, what constitutes a clinical indication at 8-11 years can be difficult to systematically detect and pediatric practitioners may not be equipped with necessary age-specific assessment tools. This is compounded by the lack of emphasis on preteen suicide risk screening (and focus on adolescents), which leaves practitioners without age-appropriate resources to make clinical determinations for at-risk preteens. The objective of this project was thus to develop an evidence-informed suicide risk screening pathway for pediatric practitioners to implement with preteen patients in outpatient settings. Suicide risk assessment in younger children (<8 years) is also briefly addressed. The authors convened a group of researchers and practitioners with expertise in preadolescent suicide, pediatric medicine, behavioral health screening integration with primary care, and child development. They reviewed the empirical literature and existing practice guidelines to iterate on a multi-informant clinical suicide risk screening pathway for preteens that includes both caregivers and preteens in the screening process. The authors also developed tools and accompanying guidelines for a preteen suicide risk screening workflow and risk determination to aid practitioners in deciding who, when, and how to screen. Finally, the authors provide scripts for introducing suicide risk screening to caregivers and preteens and to discuss screening findings.

Source: RAND Corporation

N O T E :
An online subscription may be required to view some items.

web logo LN logo email logo

OPPAGA is currently accepting applications for a part-time, academic year Graduate Student Position. OPPAGA is an ideal setting for gaining hands-on experience in policy analysis and working on a wide range of issues of interest to the Florida Legislature. OPPAGA provides an opportunity to work in a legislative policy research offices with a highly qualified, multidisciplinary staff.


Government Program Summaries (GPS) is a free resource for legislators and the public that provides descriptive information on over 200 state government programs. To provide fiscal data, GPS links to Transparency Florida, the Legislature's website that includes continually updated information on the state's operating budget and daily expenditures by state agencies.

A publication of the Florida Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. Click here to subscribe to this publication. As a joint legislative unit, OPPAGA works with both the Senate and the House of Representatives to conduct objective research, program reviews, and contract management for the Florida Legislature.

PolicyNotes, published every Friday, features reports, articles, and websites with timely information of interest to policymakers and researchers. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by third parties as reported in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect OPPAGA's views.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of PolicyNotes provided that this section is preserved on all copies.