Children, adolescents, and young adults—as well as their families—need every opportunity to grow and develop to become healthy, educated members of society. Children and youth have a multitude of needs that can affect their development and well-being and which influence and define their adult lives. During childhood and adolescence, this population needs to receive appropriate preventive health care and accumulate significant knowledge through their families, friends, and health and education institutions. In order to help assure healthy growth and development, children and youth must create positive interactions with family members and caregivers, teachers, and others as they navigate through critical transition periods and an array of risks and challenges.
NORC’s research in this field promotes overall child well-being and development. In addition to the NORC experts in this subject area, we also work closely with leading nonprofit child research centers like Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and Child Trends®, to assess the systems that protect and support children and their families, specifically schools, healthcare, foster care, child care infrastructure, and social welfare programs. NORC is experienced in child health insurance coverage, with projects that have supported Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Additionally, NORC has developed an expertise in reaching some of the most vulnerable young people throughout the United States.
NORC’s pioneering work in longitudinal studies of students provides an outstanding foundation for developing new knowledge about development and achievement. In the early 1960s, NORC sociologist, writer, and Roman Catholic priest Andrew M. Greeley examined the effects of parochial schools, reversing popular wisdom on the subject. More recently, NORC conducted national longitudinal studies on the No Child Left Behind federal education mandate and the Evaluation of Comprehensive School Reform.
In addition to studies of students, NORC has a rich history of conducting research about American youth. During the 1970s, our landmark National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth (NLSY) followed 12,000 youth as they entered the labor market, through family formation and now into retirement, creating a rich body of data on the experiences of the largest generation since World War II. In the late 1990’s NORC began a new NLSY cohort of 9,000 youth. Both the NLS79 and NLS97 are ongoing cohorts which inform labor policy and provide a rich database for researchers in many academic disciplines.
Critical information about especially vulnerable children and youth has been provided by many NORC studies, including
- The Chafee Foster Care Project—a study that followed youth as they aged out of foster care.
- Runaway and Homeless Youth Study—examined and reported on issues related to vulnerable, at-risk youth.
- The Making Connections Survey—collected data from residents in poor urban communities in ten cities; data collected about the children living in these households included school readiness measures, engagement in after-school activities, and health status.
- The Resident Relocation Study— an interview with adolescent youth about experiences in school, engagement in pro-social activities, and aspirations for the future was included in the most recent round of data collection in this study of residents living in public and subsidized housing.
NORC studies also generate data essential to keeping young people healthy, with projects such as
- National Immunization Survey—the field’s largest continuous phone survey—provides valuable information on the immunization rate of young children and adolescents.
- National Children’s Study— examines the effect of the environment on the growth, development, and health of children across the United States from before birth until age 21.
- The National Survey of Early Child Care and Education—the first study on the topic in 20 years—brings together multiple organizations to arrive at a fresh and multi-faceted look at today’s childcare supply and demand issues and their affect on children.
The health of young people encompasses not only physical, but emotional health. Youth, in particular, are learning how to navigate and build respectful and healthy personal and intimate relationships. NORC studies, such as the NIJ Dating Violence Experiment in NYC and the CDC Dating Matters Experiment Evaluation contribute to our understanding of violence in youth dating and intimate partner relationships, as well as illuminate potential options for early education and intervention in this area.
Today, our educational expertise and advanced capabilities are enriched by economic, healthcare, public health, and criminal justice interdisciplinary work. NORC continues to play an invaluable role in helping organizations understand how, why, and when things can go right to promote health and development, but also how things can go wrong, with studies on runaway youth, dating violence, gun violence, nicotine dependence, obesity, and alcohol risk perceptions.
Specific areas of expertise include:
- Child Protection
- Foster Care