Sunday, January 28, 2007

This Week's News:Youth in Transition


Experts raise alarm on dropouts
The Express-News-January 27, 2007
At least half of all high school students in the state’s major cities are dropping out of school, creating a crisis that state leaders are not doing enough to address, some education experts say. High school dropouts have far less income potential. Their higher incarceration rates and dependence on public health care and other social services create much higher costs for society.

Four Schools Picked for Grants
The Ledger-January 24, 2007
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropic organization, is bankrolling efforts to improve four struggling high schools in Hillsborough County. The schools were selected for a national initiative to ratchet up academic expectations, especially for low-income and minority students. The four-year project’s goals include increasing the graduation rate in selected schools by 10 percent and decreasing the drop-outs by 10 percent.

Green-Rainbow: State report reveals public education crisis
The Bridge-January 23, 2007
The Department of Education announced Tuesday that only 80 percent of Massachusetts high school students graduate after four years, with major disparities when factoring in race and income-level. The Department report said that only 64 percent of black students completed high school in four years and that figure was 57 percent among Latino students.

Juvenile Justice

Not eager for return of juvenile offenders
Los Angeles Times-January 23, 2007
As Los Angeles County labors to turn its ailing juvenile detention department around, and as federal officials launched an inspection of probation camps Monday, officials expressed concerns over the governor’s proposal to shift up to half the young offenders in state custody back to counties. Los Angeles’ probation system of roughly 4,000 minors in three juvenile halls and 19 camps has been plagued by violence among youth and inadequate staffing.

Juvenile Injustice
Gotham Gazette-January 24, 2007
In his 2007 State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he will launch “the most significant restructuring of our juvenile justice system in decades,” including an increase in alternatives to incarceration, a crackdown on truancy, and a call to remove youthful offender status for those young people convicted of a crime involving a gun. “We’re going to do more than ever to hold accountable the children and teens who run afoul of the law,” the mayor said, “and also help them get the services they need.”

Crime victims’ families lobby on juvenile justice, other bills
Sun Herald-January 25, 2007
Some of the victims’ advocates want legislators to kill a bill designed to reshape the way some juveniles’ criminal cases are handled. Other advocates sought lawmakers’ support for a separate bill that could open some investigative records that have been kept secret. Another bill, 97-19 says that prosecutors would be restricted in using confessions of people younger than 17 and judges would have some discretion in sentencing young people convicted of violent crimes.

Foster Care

Offering Help for Former Foster Care Youths
The New York Times- January 27, 2007
In part because of the increasing advocacy by foster youth groups, many states are expanding efforts to help young adults prepare for life outside the system, offering transitional housing, education, medical care, and mentoring as they step out on their own. States are also extending aid for extra years, in some cases to age 21 and beyond. “We’re finally seeing recognition by public agencies that they have a responsibility to this population beyond the age of 18,” said Gary Stangler, director of Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.

Funding helps foster kids beat the odds
Sierra Sun-January 26, 2007
Each year, nearly 60 children reach adulthood and age-out of the foster care systems in Nevada and Placer counties without access to social resources. But that will change soon, as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has increased the budget for older foster youth, allowing local counties to improve their systems of care. This more than triples the state’s investment in the Transitional Housing Placement-Plus Program. THP-Plus is a program that provides affordable housing and supportive services to youth, age 18 to 24, to help them make a successful transition from foster care. It offers a wide-range of services, such as educational counseling, job search assistance, banking and budgeting education and case management.

Miryam J. Choca: Help foster kids make the grade
Sacramento Bee-January 26, 2007
Participants in a groundbreaking Education Summit spoke with one voice, calling upon California to make education its 75,000 foster youth a statewide priority. A diverse group of present and former foster youth, educators, probation officers, judges, attorneys, social workers and child advocates is ready to go to work and asked policymakers to join them. The group gave a series of detailed policy recommendations to a bipartisan panel of state legislators and members of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care.

Friday, January 19, 2007

This week's News: Youth in Transition


They toughed it out - 70 stayed in school and finally got their diplomas
The Cincinnati Enquirer – January 17, 2007
Whenever Bianca Riston's high school career threatened to fall off track, the 17-year-old Corryville teen tried to get back in step. She got pregnant her freshman year at age 14, but stayed in school even after having the baby. She held a part-time job that kept her working until 10 p.m. or later each weeknight, but she stayed in school.

Vocational ed rebounding as an answer to dropout crisis
Mercury News – January 15, 2007
For years, California's 6 million public school students have been given a clear message: If you want to succeed in life, go to college. In reality, almost one-third of the state's high school students will drop out. Nearly another third will graduate without the credits needed to attend a four-year university. And many will go on to college but fail once they get there, unsure of what to study or how to make classes translate into a good job.

Congress moves to cut college loan costs
Christian Science Monitor – January 16, 2007
It's a proposal that could save college graduates thousands of dollars: reducing the interest rates on some student loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. Halving those rates played a big part in congressional campaign promises this fall, and is a part of the high-profile first 100 hours for the new Democratic majority.

Centers help drop-outs find their way back
Cleveland Plain Dealer – January 15, 2007
She was once a promising scholar, the best speller in her kindergarten class and a straight-A student in elementary school. Then, Kendra Cordero began hanging out with the wrong crowd. As her family life hit the skids, she skipped classes, drank and smoked pot. Her grades went south.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile justice
San Gabriel Valley Tribune – January 18, 2007
The room was packed with about 200 high school students, but all was still. At one end of the dais sat Superior Court Judge Martha E. Bellinger. At the other end was the defendant, teenager Jasmine. Between them were six teens selected at random from the audience as jurors. Pomona Teen Court was in session. Jasmine, a student at Royal Oak Junior High in Covina, was accused of getting into a fight during school. She was being sentenced by her peers in a process designed to convince young people that their first step into negative behavior should be their last.

Juvenile justice group rallies at Capitol
Commercial Dispatch – January 16, 2007
Teenagers rallied Monday at the state Capitol in support of legislation that includes changing state law so juveniles convicted of murder can't be sentenced to life without parole. The Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse also wants the Legislature to fund alternative community-based facilities instead of jailing juveniles. Among other requested changes is a measure that would not allow children under the age of 15 to be tried as adults.

Building more than a juvenile facility
20-year-old program helps young offenders learn a trade of interest – January 16, 2007
As he works in the nearly completed $176 million Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center, Ramiro Barajas talks about the drastic change of direction in his life. "I'm doing something better than what I was doing before," he said as he sat at the building's central controls, working on the security system. What Barajas was doing before got him sent to the old Juvenile Justice Center, just down Fairmont Drive in San Leandro. Eventually, it led to Camp Wilmont Sweeney, an unlocked, 24-hour residential program where teens serve out their court sentences for nonviolent crimes.

Foster Care

Tough times often await youths aging out of foster care system
Stamford Times – January 18, 2007
Articulate and engaging, 20-year-old Shakhina Bellamy appears an unlikely fit in the ranks of New York City's homeless. After hearing her story, told through tears and flashes of anger, her state of limbo seems an almost inevitable result of an adolescence spent bouncing through a dozen group homes and foster families as a ward of New York's child welfare agency.

New funds must support foster care, advocates say
Arizona Republic – January 17, 2007
Children's advocates are calling on the state Legislature to appropriate millions of dollars in new state money to support children in the state's foster care system. Federal cuts have left the Department of Economic Services facing a $19.7 million shortfall this year to cover services for children in foster care, and a $13.5 million shortfall next year and every year thereafter. The agency says if that funding, which is included in the governor's budget proposal released Friday, is not covered by the state, the impact to the agency would "be unimaginable."

Group urges more support for California foster youth
Scripps News – January 17, 2007
California provides foster youth with less than 5 percent of the financial support that average parents spend on their young adult children, according to a report released Tuesday by a San Diego-based advocacy group. A lack of assistance with tuition, rent and other necessities is one of the reasons many former foster youth become homeless or unemployed, the report by the Children's Advocacy Institute said.

Orphan Foundation of America Spearheads National Effort to Send Handmade Scarves to Former Foster Youth Attending College, Universities and Trade Schools
PR Newswire – January 16, 2007
The Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) will send warmth and encouragement in the form of colorful hand- knit scarves and Valentine's Day Care Packages to America's college-attending foster youth. An estimated 13,000 former foster youth are attending colleges and universities across the nation this year, most without any family support.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

This week's News: Youth in Transition


State using Web site to help students prepare for college – January 9, 2007
High school students in Massachusetts have rising MCAS passing rates and higher SAT scores than the national average, but only about half of ninth graders start college and fewer than 30 percent earn a degree.

Latinos lag in reaching, finishing college
Sacramento Bee – January 9, 2007
It's a common refrain Latino kids hear from older relatives who migrated to the United States: "You've got to go to college to be successful -- don't go working in the fields like we did," said Diana Coughran, 17, a college-bound senior at Rio Americano High School.

How Bush education law has changed our schools
USA Today – January 8, 2007
The walls are speaking these days at Stanton Elementary School in Philadelphia, and they're talking about test scores. Post-It notes with children's names tell the story of how, in just five years, a federal law with a funny name has changed school for everyone. "We spend most of our days talking about or looking at data," principal Barbara Adderley says.

Keeping at-risk kids in school requires programs, not rhetoric – January 1, 2007
After bailing out of Franklin High School in her senior year, Jennifer Brown is taking courses again and on track to graduate in the spring. Brown, who was never actually counted as a dropout, is succeeding because Franklin gave her the chance to work at her own pace in an alternative, off-campus program called the Academic Recovery Center. The 18-year-old is even optimistic about passing geometry, her nemesis in the past.

Juvenile Justice

Lamar tackles youth crime
Orlando Sentinel – January 12, 2007
Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar sent a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist with the goal of creating a statewide approach to solve the juvenile-crime problem. Lamar said the Department of Juvenile Justice system "coddles, slaps the wrist and too often rapidly returns the juvenile to the same neighborhood where they once again prey on the community."

Panel aims to reform juvenile justice
The Albuquerque Tribune – January 11, 2007
New Mexico has a training academy for adult corrections officers, so why not offer the same for guards in the juvenile justice system? The idea is one of several stemming from a new state/county commission on juvenile justice, headed up by Tom Swisstack, the director of the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center.

Foster Care

Ex-foster children get help
Fresno Bee – January 11, 2007
Mari Sanders was 12 when her mother swung a switchblade at Mari's half brother during a family fight. "I have a temper," says Bobbie Sanders, the mother. "Yes, I cut [him]. I think I wasn't myself." Mari Sanders, now 20, recalls the incident with little sign of emotion. Her half brother was cut on the arm, but not seriously injured. The police came. Mari ended up in foster care.

UPMC for You Chosen to Develop Program to Improve Care for Foster Children
PR Newswire – January 11, 2007
UPMC for You has been selected by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) to develop a program designed to improve access to physical and behavioral health care for children in foster care in Allegheny County. UPMC for You, the Medical Assistance program of UPMC Health Plan, was one of 11 managed care organizations across the country selected by CHCS to
be part of a national collaborative. The intent of the collaborative is to develop and pilot promising approaches to meet the health and behavioral care needs of children and youth in the child welfare system.

Chief justice asks lawmakers to help Iowa's foster children
Globe Gazette – January 10, 2007
Marsha Ternus, Iowa’s new Supreme Court chief justice, drew praise from lawmakers Wednesday for her calls to improve the state’s role in helping foster children. In the annual State of the Judiciary speech, Ternus’ first since assuming the state’s top court job in September, she urged legislators to do the best they could to protect children in foster care.

Friday, January 05, 2007

This week's News: Youth in Transition


'No Child' Law on Track, Spellings Says
Washington Post – January 4, 2007
U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said yesterday that she welcomed proposals to "perfect and tweak" the No Child Left Behind law as Congress prepares for what could become a divisive debate on renewal of the landmark education initiative.

Poverty, low graduation rates share strong link
Indianapolis Star – January 3, 2007
New graduation rates released Tuesday for individual Indiana high schools show once again the divide between affluent and poor schools, state officials and academic experts agree. An Indianapolis Star analysis of the statewide numbers shows a strong relationship between low graduation rates and the number of students in poverty. Among the lowest-performing schools, two-thirds also had the poorest students in the state.

Schools, Programs Work To Provide For Homeless Youth
The Morning News – December 24, 2006
Lynisa Morrow's deep brown eyes dart around with nervous energy as she talks of leaving home at 12, sleeping on a park bench and in shelters. The look steadies and intensifies when she describes her hope of getting custody of her son and making a home for him. She fidgets and rubs her nose while explaining she hasn't attended school since the 10th grade but calmly looks off in the distance and describes a plan for the future that might include becoming a pediatrician.
Charter schools 'not a panacea,' report says
Miami Herald – December 20, 2006
Charter schools are filling a unique niche in the state's public school system, but their academic results don't differ much from those of traditional public schools, says a report issued Tuesday by the Florida Department of Education. ''The charter school movement continues to hold great promise for many students,'' says the report, which marks the 10-year anniversary of Florida's charter school movement. ``However, a decade of progress makes it clear that charter schools are not a panacea; they are not for everyone.''

Report says poor students do not get fair share of education dollars – December 20, 2006

Community colleges -- doing the most with the least – December 20, 2006

Panel: Revamp U.S. high schools: Experts call for 10th-grade test
Chicago Tribune – December 15, 2006

Juvenile Justice

Young Justice - In A Manhattan Youth Court, Teenagers Judge Each Other For Real
New York Resident – January 2, 2007
At the Harlem Courthouse late one Wednesday afternoon, jurors chatted amiably behind the bar while the prosecuting attorney went over her opening statement. Everyone was waiting for the judge, who had been called to fill in at the last minute and was rushing over from a previous engagement: cheerleading practice.

Leaders plan forum on youth crime
Morning Sentinel – December 21, 2006
Skowhegan is suffering from a spike in teen crime, but that should not be seen as an indictment of all youth, say community leaders. "It is a select few," said Davida Barter, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. "But we need to address the problem and I'm glad we are here."

Tough truancy rules sought
Baltimore Sun – December 17, 2006
A small team of Howard County legislators, litigators and school system officials will work in the coming weeks to draft a bill that would create the county's first truancy court that places harsher penalties on students.

Foster Care

State to offer transitional housing to foster kids
Chicago Defender – January 3, 2007
Becoming an adult can be a particularly daunting task for foster children who turn 18 and find themselves alone in the world with no family and little or no help from the state. With little or no resources, those first steps into adulthood can be tough, but the state's housing authority and local human services agencies plan to launch a transitional housing program next year for youth 18 to 21 to make those first few steps a little easier.

Credit union to offer foster care children savings accounts
Orlando Business Journal – January 2, 2007
The Central Florida Educators Federal Credit Union is partnering with the City of Life Foundation to offer savings accounts to children in foster care in Central Florida and waive the requirement of an adult co-signer.

Lost And Found- Lesley Stahl On Efforts To Place Foster Children Back With Their Families
CBS News – 60 Minutes – December 17, 2006
They've been called some of the loneliest people on earth: children who were taken away from their parents due to neglect or abuse, but were never adopted by new families. Stranded in the child welfare system, they move from foster homes to group homes. There are tens of thousands of these children. They have no one – not a single relative to visit on Christmas or their birthday.