Sunday, February 25, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Vallas: Transitional schools could stem dropouts
Philadelphia Inquirer – February 20, 2007
School-based programs aimed at curbing youth violence in Philadelphia are beginning to make a dent, but should be expanded, and other measures, such as transitional schools for overage middle-schoolers, should be tried, schools chief Paul Vallas suggested yesterday.

Panel advises community colleges on raising graduation rate
The Boston Globe – February 16, 2007
To boost low graduation rates, the state’s community colleges should reach out to students with mentoring, support groups, and more full-time faculty, says a state report released yesterday. The report, written by a task force appointed by the state Board of Higher Education more than a year ago, also urges public high schools to give students college-entrance exams in the 11th grade. Nearly two-thirds of students at the state’s 15 community colleges end up taking remedial classes because they were ill-prepared for college.

Lifeline to Low-Income Students
Inside Higher Ed – February 20, 2007
That low-income Americans are far less likely to go to college than their peers is a fact; less than clear are the reasons why. But one oft-cited explanation is that potential college students from lower socioeconomic groups are either unaware of how much need-based financial aid is available or intimidated by the process of applying for federal student aid. Researchers are taking an unconventional approach to the problem. What is unusual, however, is the research design—offering taxpayers a painless way to turn the information on their tax forms into a financial aid application—and the sponsor: H&R Block, the tax preparation company.

Juvenile Justice

In Vermont, Prisoners Go To High School Behind Bars
Washington Post - February 18, 2007
Welcome to one of 17 outposts of Community High School of Vermont. It’s the state’s largest high school, and it’s run by the Department of Corrections. The school—operating in each of the state’s jails and prisons, with walk-in schools at Probation and Parole office—has about 3,500 registered students, though only about 350 attend classes every day.

Turning the Tide of Juvenile Justice
Diverse – February 22, 2007
In recent years, more juveniles—particularly Black males-have been entering the criminal justice system and being tried as adults. From her perch as faculty member at Texas’ Prairie View A&M University, Dr. Camille Gibson wants to do something about that. With offices in the new $18 million state-of-the-art College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology building, Prairie View is also offering the nation’s only doctoral program in juvenile justice. There, Gibson and her colleagues teach, research and advocate public policy to increase understanding of juvenile offenders.

Consortium focuses on juvenile justice
The Lexington Dispatch – February 23, 2007
More than 200 people from numerous agencies across the county who work with juveniles met Thursday to discuss ways to better coordinate resources for at-risk children. The two-day consortium involved school superintendents, social workers, teachers and elected officials.

Foster Care

Bill orders tracking use of psychiatric drugs on foster kids
San Francisco Chronicle – February 24, 2007
Sacramento—A Bay Area lawmaker introduced a bill on Friday that would require the state to collect personal and medical data on foster children as a first step to determine if they are being overmedicated because they are misdiagnosed with mental illnesses. In many instances, foster children are given medications such as antidepressants when they’re simply withdrawn because they are coping with the trauma of leaving their families to live with strangers, said Assemblywomen Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.

Funds from county could fill a gap for teen program
West Central Tribune – February 21, 2007
Kandiyohi County may pick up the slack in state and federal funding in order to help more teens stay healthy and out of permanent foster care. For about $5,000 the county could help about 24 youth that would otherwise fall through the cracks created by stiffer state restrictions. In the past, kids who moved in and out of foster care could participate in the preventative program. If often helped stop the foster care cycle, said Christenson. With the new restrictions, those kids won’t be able to participate in the program.

End is in sight for child-welfare lawsuit against state
Desert Morning News – February 20, 2007
Utah officials could soon be out from under the cloud of a 14-year-old lawsuit credited for reforming the state’s entire child-welfare system. Officials say the lawsuit, which has included court-ordered monitoring for many years, has made a vast difference in Utah’s overall child-welfare system. The case began in 1991, when a child advocate contacted the National Center for Youth Law with allegations that Utah’s foster youth were being mistreated.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


State must play stronger role in education reform
Detroit News – February 12, 2007
Just 10 years ago, Michigan students significantly out-performed the national average on achievement. Today, their performance is barely average compared with other states—and fails miserably compared to other countries. Experts and activists agree the state must take the lead on improving student performance by providing more guidance on instructional methods, and addressing school structures and educators who resist reforms.

Vouchers pushed in fight to prevent dropouts
San Antonio Express – February 13, 2007
Former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige touted school vouchers Monday as one way to address the state’s dropout issues, which a new study suggests will cost Texas taxpayers $377 million a year just for the 120,000 students expected not to graduate with the 2007 high school class.

“No Child” Commission Presents Ambitious Plan
The Washington Post – February 14, 2007
A commission proposed a wide-reaching expansion of the No Child Left Behind law yesterday requiring schools to ensure that all seniors are proficient in reading and math and hold schools accountable for raising test scores in science by 2014.

Juvenile Justice

Caucus confronts juvenile justice
Times Union – February 18, 2007
Immigration and gang violence were among the weighty topics discussed at the state Legislative Office Building during the annual gathering of black and Hispanic politicians. One workshop focused on the increase of young women in the juvenile justice system, and the challenges that presents to academics and those charged with helping the troubled youngsters.

Guilford shackles all juvenile offenders
Star-News – February 17, 2008
Unlike adult inmates, all juvenile offenders in Guilford County courts are shackled under a policy aimed at preventing children and teenagers from running away from guards. The policy is being challenged by Legal Aid of North Carolina, which said that requirement is illegal because the leg restraints aren’t used on adults without a judge’s order. The organization filed a motion last week with Chief District Court Judge Joseph E. Turner, citing psychologists who said the practice has adverse effects on children.

Youth & Consequences: a time to learn
The Valley – February 18, 2007
Dozens of youth and adults attended the workshop sponsored by the Youngstown Police Department and the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center. A main goal of the four-hour program was helping to reduce violent crimes in the city that are committed by youngsters; it was also designed to show young people that there are alternatives to violence and consequences for making poor choices, organizers said.

Foster Care

Foster Children Grieve For Many Losses
The Post-Journal – February 18, 2007
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers meet regularly to share experiences and learn procedures and approaches that will help them befriend and understand their assigned foster children. The first thing learned was that grieving does not necessarily involve a death. “It is impossible to be a foster child and not experience grief”, said Dawn Comstock.

Adoption agency builds rainbow of families
Bay Area Reporter – February 15, 2007
At the forefront of the family evolution locally is Family Builders by Adoption. Now in its 30th year, the $2.5 million dollar foster care and adoption agency is expanding at lightning speed with the goal of finding homes for more than 77,500 youth in foster care in California. Family Builders is recognized as a leader in LGBT and older-children foster care and adoption.

Rally targets proposed aid cut for young adults in foster care
The Providence Journal – February 14, 2007Providence—If the General Assembly approves the budget as proposed, 857 young adults will be on their own come July 1. Those young adults have grown up in state care, in most cases because the state Department of Children, Youth and Families determined that their parents were unfit to care for them. They are over 18, but have been able to continue receiving state services—and living in foster care, group home or apartments with the state’s help paying the rent – as long as they are enrolled in college, in some cases through age 23. But that could change come July 1, if lawmakers approve ending services to this group at age 18, across the board, as a budget-balancing measure.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


State education boss calls for achievement gap summit
North County Times - February 6, 2007
The achievement gap—the difference in student performance between traditionally low- performing poor, ethnic, or disabled students and more affluent white or Asian students—continues to vex state and local educators, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, Jack O’Connell, said Tuesday.

Report says educators need to better track alternative schools
Sacramento Bee - February 7, 2007
The state doesn’t do enough to keep track of what happens to more than one in 10 high school students who attend alternative schools in California, according to a report issued Wednesday by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. Between 10 and 15 percent of all high school students in California attend some kind of alternative school. The state’s accountability system “allows schools and districts to use referrals to alternative schools as a way to avoid responsibility for the progress of low-performing students,” the report said.

Building young careers
Orange County Register – February 9, 2007
State Secretary of Education Scott Himelstein visited Katella High Thursday morning to tour the school’s highly touted building academy, a program that prepares students for careers in the construction industry. Himelstein stated that it is important for high schools to offer students more vocational training because technical programs integrate core academics with technical and occupational courses to give students pathways to both postsecondary education and careers.

Juvenile Justice

Settlement proposed in juvenile justice suit
The Cincinnati Post-February 5, 2007
Ohio’s juvenile justice will make is easier for offenders to find attorneys and file claims over the length or conditions of their detention under a proposed settlement to a three-year-old lawsuit alleging unconstitutional denial of legal representation. The Department of Youth Services started helping juvenile offenders find attorneys after the class-action lawsuit was filed and will create a formal program under the settlement tentatively approved January 12 in U.S. District Court. The final approval hearing is set for March 6.

Educators, students praise peer punishment system
Taunton Gazette – February 6, 2007
The program hopes to offer an alternative to suspension for misbehaving students-a punishment decided by a jury of fellow students. The court, which is scheduled to be up and running by the spring, will be one of 11,000 youth courts in the country, but just the fourth in Massachusetts. Using a youth court helps keep some minor offenders out of the juvenile justice system, says Lisa DaPont, director of the Taunton Youth Court.

Child Welfare
Sun-Sentinel-February 5, 2007
State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, has filed a bill to establish a “children and youth cabinet” that would be chaired by the governor and include several agencies, including the Departments of Children & Families, Education, Health and Juvenile Justice. The proposed public hearings would meet periodically, hold public hearings around the state and draft a strategy that would foster greater collaboration in dealing with the problems facing Florida’s youth. The idea coincides with a new initiative by the Children’s Welfare League of America, which wants to stem the flow of foster youths that end up in the criminal justice system as juvenile delinquents.

Foster Care

Genesis House: A new beginning
Star Banner – February 11, 2007
After a three-year effort, Childhood Development Services recently celebrated the opening of Genesis House, an emergency shelter for at-risk youth. Children 10 to 17 who have been removed from their homes by the Department of Children and Families due to abuse and neglect can find a safe, home-like experience that strives to take care of the body and mind of the children in its care. Once admitted to Genesis House, youth are assessed for their specific needs and goals are developed. Counseling sessions are scheduled and the youth begin their journey to self-sufficiency.

Judge in Polk County lets foster kids go to hearings
Des Moines Register – February 11, 2007
Last spring, the foster youth of Elevate told the bar association meeting in Des Moines they felt left out of the court process, where decisions are made about their parents’ ability to care for them, and their own future. After listening to the youths, Judge Joe E. Smith said he had a change of heart. Smith now tells lawyers and social workers they need to make arrangements for children- generally those 8 and up, although any age is welcome unless attendance would be hurtful- to come to hearings.

Ex-Foster care kids get help to succeed in college
Charleston Gazette – February 10, 2007
Too few young people in foster care go on to college, but on Valentine’s Day, the Orphan Foundation of America sends out packages to each student to remind them that someone cares about them and wants to encourage them. At least 13,000 young people who were in foster care and now are in college will receive a care package that includes a hand-knitted scarf and Valentine’s Day items. The Red Scarf Project for Valentine’s Day started 14 years ago to help young people feel the encouragement they need to succeed as adults.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Readin’, writin, & rookies
New York Daily News- January 29, 2007
Scores of city schools are staffed almost entirely with teachers who have little or no classroom experience, a Daily News analysis has found. At 116 city schools-mostly new, small high schools in struggling neighborhoods- at least half the teachers have fewer than two years on the job. At 14 of the schools, 80% or more of the teachers are brand-new.

More money for Pell grants
USA Today-January 30, 2007
Democrats unveiled a $463.5 billion catchall spending bill late Monday to boost funding for community health centers, lower-income college students and efforts to combat AIDS overseas-while sticking within the confines of President Bush’s tight constraints for the ongoing budget year. The maximum Pell Grant for lower-income college students would increase by $260 to $4,310. While modest, it’s the first increase since 2003.

27% of top college blacks came from immigrant families
Chicago Sun-Times-January 31, 2007
Black students with U.S. ancestry appear to be less represented in college than race-based statistics indicated, as immigrants make up a disproportionate share of admissions, a Princeton University analysis found. First-or second-generation immigrants made up 27 percent of black freshman entering 28 top-ranked colleges in 1999, according to the study released Tuesday. Such immigrants accounted for only 13 percent of all U.S. blacks age 18 or 19 that year, the researchers found.

Study: 2-year colleges must improve
Contra Costa Times-February 2, 2007
Researchers find that community campuses are doing more to get people in but not enough to help them finish. Educators and policymakers have spent more time and money helping students get into college than on helping them earn their degrees, Sacramento State researchers found.

Juvenile Justice

Mission unaccomplished
Plain Dealer Reporter-January 21, 2007
Ohio’s juvenile-justice mission hinges on a simple, but telling, sentence: To enhance public safety by holding youthful offenders accountable and providing opportunities for rehabilitation. Only it doesn’t work. In the bloated juvenile prisons, public safety comes first; rehabilitation takes a back seat. One out of two inmates commits a new crime after being released and lands back behind bars within three years.

DJJ transition house
The State-February 3, 2007
One of the biggest breakdowns in our penal system is that many inmates— juvenile and adult—are released without skills to cope on the outside, all but guaranteeing they’ll return to prison. The Department of Juvenile Justice has been combating that and could make notable progress when its Girls Transition House, currently under construction, opens this summer. The $740,000 facility will house girls who are within six months of release. They’ll learn to manage money and a household, be better parents and resolve conflicts. Each will have individual graduation plans and access to GED preparation and testing.

Richland Co. taking different approach to juvenile justice
WIS10-January 30, 2007
Richland County is taking a different approach to juvenile justice. A new program is giving kids an alternative to being locked up. Instead of being charged with a crime and going through the juvenile justice process, first time offenders charged with non-violent crimes will be given the opportunity to atone for their mistake through the arbitration program. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said, “The success rate has been about 90% of these young people never repeat.”

Foster Care

Gov. Wants to Triple Money for Homeless Foster Youth
Gilroy Dispatch-February 2, 2007
Between 120 and 150 children “age out” of foster care every year in Santa Clara County, but most lack the family support to find jobs, housing and other tools to lead successful lives. Social worker Jim Anderson says, “More than 50 percent of former foster youth in California wind up being homeless at some point and a lot of them end up being incarcerated because they just can’t make it.”

Bredesen on hand for Youth Villages announcement
The Bartlett Express-February 1, 2007
Governor Phil Bredesen, Clarence Day, President of the Day Foundation and Patrick Lawler, CEO for Youth Villages, a Memphis-based non-profit organization that works with children and families, held a joint press conference Jan. 23 to announce their joint collaboration to aid youth transitioning into adult life from the foster care system. The partnership produced $3 million in additional funding for Youth Villages Transitional Living program. For Bredesen, the event represented the power that can come when public and private funding is combined to combat any serious societal issue.

Study Calls GLBT Youth Homelessness an Epidemic
EDGE -January 31, 2007
Homelessness among GLBT youth in America is much higher proportionately than among those who are heterosexual, according to a new report. The federal government estimates that the total number of homeless and runaway youth ranges from 575,000 to 1.6 million. The study prepared by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that 20 to 40 percent (320,000 to 640,000) are GLBTs. According to a study cited in the report, the parents of half of gay teens reacted negatively when they came out and 26 percent were kicked out of their homes. Another study found that more than a third of youth who are homeless or in the care of social services experienced a violent physical assault when they came out. Such treatment often leads youth to leave a homeless shelter or foster care because they believe they would be safer living on the streets.