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Lobby in Chicago NORC office

Children and Youth

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
  • Adoption

Representative Projects

Getting on Track Early for School Success: An Assessment System to Support Effective Instruction. Stephen W. Raudenbush and a team of co-investigators from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Education, Urban Education Institute, Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, and NORC at the University of Chicago are developing objective, valid, and instructionally relevant tools for assessing the literacy and math skills of children of ages three and four.   More

National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), sponsored and funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor, is the youth-focused component of the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) Program – a set of surveys used to gather information on the labor market experiences of American men and women.  The National Longitudinal Surveys are conducted jointly by the Ohio State University Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR) and NORC at the University of Chicago.  More

National Survey of Early Care and Education. The NSECE will gather information from multiple sources to provide rich data on the types of providers of early care and education, as well as the needs, constraints and preferences of families with children age 13 and under as they seek and use non-parental care for their children. More

Resident Relocation Survey. NORC at the University of Chicago has been conducting the Resident Relocation Survey (RRS) to gain an understanding of the impact of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Plan for Transformation, an ambitious effort to rehabilitate or replace substandard high-rise public housing developments in Chicago, on the lives of those relocated.​​​ More

The Horatio Alger Association’s State of Our Nation's Youth Project. The 2012 State of Our Nation's Youth (SONY) project will collect information that provides a snapshot of attitudes among current high school students and graduates across a range of contemporary issues.  The primary aim of the project is to deepen our understanding of the myriad challenges our nation's youth face as they enter adult life in the current social and economic context.  More

See all Children and Youth projects

Headlines

News The Los Angeles Times: The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth delves in to the long term results of bullying More
Posted: 8.5.2013 4:32PM
News The Los Angeles Times: According to the General Social Survey, the Millenial generation is still optimistic More
Posted: 7.15.2013 7:28PM
News TIME: The Horatio Alger Association’s State of Our Nation's Youth Project helps observe hope in high schoolers More
Posted: 9.6.2012 4:06PM
Press Release Horatio Alger Association Announces Important Youth Survey More
Posted: 8.8.2012 9:01AM
News Discover Magazine: Considering post-Millenial children with data and support from the GSS More
Posted: 7.17.2012 7:44PM

Contacts

Bronwyn Nichols Lodato

(773) 256-6092

Michael Davern

(312) 357-3770

Chet Bowie

(301) 634-9334

Eric Goplerud

(301) 634-9525

Jeffrey Hackett

(312) 759-4266

Cheryl Austein Casnoff

(301) 634-9510