Sunday, March 25, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Gates Foundation to Give D.C. Students Push to College
Washington Post – March 22, 2007
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will announce today a $122 million investment to create a new crop of high school and college scholars among some of the city’s poorest and lowest-achieving students. It is the foundation’s largest investment to date in D.C. education and one of the largest grants it has made for education.

No Child Left Behind losing steam
The Christian Science Monitor - March 21, 2007
Washington- Support for No Child Left Behind – President Bush’s signature reform- is fraying as it heads into reauthorization this year. The heaviest criticism is coming from within his own party. Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate introduced bills last week that allow states to opt out of the most of the law’s requirements, while keeping federal funding. Backers of No Child Left Behind say that the move would gut the law.

Quincy program keeps kids in class: Tries to identify cause of absences
The Patriot Ledger – March 24, 2007
In the past, Quincy School Committee member Linda Stice had trouble relating to students with poor attendance records. But now, thanks to a program to help traumatized children, Stice understands that missing classes can be a sign of problems that go beyond schools. Janet Powell, who administers the program, said it is aimed at children who have been abused or who have witnessed violence. Students that are identified are given individual attention with their schoolwork and are taught about decision-making, handling stress and getting along with others.

Juvenile Justice

Advocates: Changes needed to keep young offenders out of adult jails
The Arizona Republic – March 21, 2007
Young offenders end up in adult jails too often, increasing the odds they will be repeat offenders and move on to more serious crimes, say advocates pushing for changes in how teens are treated by the justice system. They cite a sharp decrease in the crime rate for violent juvenile offenders during the past decade as another reason for changing the prosecute-them-as-adults approach that some state have adopted.

Lawmakers want N.C. to stop automatically trying teens as adults
The Fayetteville Observer – March 21, 2007
A rigid law that requires North Carolina criminal courts to treat 16-and 17-year-olds as adults is doing more harm than good, requiring harsh punishment for juvenile mistakes and shutting teens off from treatment that could help them turn their lives around, lawmakers and youth advocates said Wednesday. North Carolina is one of three states that automatically treats 16-and 17-year-olds as adults when they are accused of any crimes. Bills in House and Senate would raise that age to 18, and establish a task force to examine how best to treat older teens within the juvenile justice system.

New state Juvenile Justice draft mission revealed
The News-Press – March 23, 2007
Tallahassee – Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Walt McNeil today unveiled a new draft mission for the embattled department, one that seeks to broaden its approach from public protection to prevention, intervention and treatment. When McNeil accepted his new position in January, he said the agency, “is not a place for punishment. It is a balance approach. We have to make sure we deal with prevention…that we prevent kids from coming into the criminal justice system.”

Foster Care

Child advocates air concerns
McCook Daily Gazette - March 23, 2007
Representing 17 agencies in the area that focus on the well being of children and families, the Child Advocacy Team named their top concerns as mental health issues, the foster care system, state funding and the condition of the Nebraska Health and Human Services System. The foster care system in Nebraska is in need of a major overhaul, members said, citing a lack of support for foster parents. Another issue they mentioned is when foster children are returned to their family of origin and problems in the family have not been addressed. Some kind of education is needed for the original family, such as parenting skills, before the child is returned.

Foster care system to get youth review
Inside Bay Area – March 22, 2007
Courts make major life decisions for youths in the system, including whether they go home to their parents or go to live with a foster family or into a group home. But Frazier, 20, now a college student, said he couldn’t get any of his rotating cast of court-appointed attorneys to adequately prepare him for his hearings or even explain what was going on. Frazier will share his experience with the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care at a public hearing in Sacramento today on the effectiveness of the courts in dealing with foster children.

Help Teen Girls in Foster Care Feel Special
The Signal – March 24, 2007
Undoubtedly, there are generous people who are willing to donate prom dresses, bridesmaid gowns, handbags and fancy costume jewelry to high school girls who need them – girls in the Los Angeles County foster care system who want to attend their proms but lack the proper essentials to do so. “Glamour Gowns,” an annual event for girls in foster care, will be held April 21 and 22 at the Convention Center in Los Angeles. There, more than 600 high school girls currently in L.A. County’s foster system will receive free prom gowns, along with many pretty accessories to complete their look.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Group to Offer AP Exam Extra Credit: $250
The Washington Post – March 9, 2007
The Advanced Placement program has long offered college credit to high school students who show mastery of a subject. Now, a group of educators and business executives plan to dangle another incentive in front of AP students and teachers in selected schools across the country: $250 for each passing score on science, English and math tests. The group behind the offer says it aims to raise AP achievement in certain public schools where an incentive might make a difference.

Study calls for more targeted school funding
San Francisco Chronicle – March 14, 2007
A soon-to-be released study of California’s public education systems says the state will have to stop pouring money blindly into schools – and spend far more money specifically on kids with the highest needs – if it wants every student to succeed. The voluminous treatise—232 separate studies by academics and educators—highlights failings in the current system and offers ideas for improvement, concluding that dumping money on schools won’t cure what ails the 6.3 million student system.

AP Enterprise: Many states don’t track pre-K students
Kansas City Star – March 10, 2007
Fourteen years ago, Georgia launched a publicly funded pre-kindergarten program that later became the first in the nation to offer free classes to all 4-year-olds. Educators promised better prepared students and eventually lower crime rates when students got older. But don’t ask state officials for data on how many of those students graduated from high school and went on to college this past fall. They didn’t keep track.

Juvenile Justice

Critics call juvenile overhaul a gamble
The Charlotte Observer – March 17, 2007
North Carolina is betting at least $80 million on a transformation of its juvenile justice system that even its advocates aren’t sure will work. The NC Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is reinventing the way it treats its toughest offenders. The new approach stresses education and encouragement, not punishment.

Audit ordered on 17-year-olds in justice system
Oshkosh Northwestern – March 17, 2007
People have strong opinions on whether 17-year-olds who commit crimes should be prosecuted in adult court or in the juvenile system. Now, a state group will conduct a study to determine which option is most effective at reducing the chances a teen will not commit anymore crimes. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee unanimously directed the Legislative Audit Bureau to study what happens when a 17-year-old offender is handled by the juvenile system and what happens if that teen is prosecuted in adult court.

New hope for youth crime prevention
Monterey County Herald – March 15, 2007
Monterey County’s youth crime prevention programs are working, according to a report that will be sent to state officials this month. The report, which tracked young offenders after they took part in county invention programs, show that taking part in the programs keeps more young people from re-offending compared with children who have been arrested but do not enroll in such programs.

Foster Care

A dilemma: medications for foster kids
The Boston Globe – March 13, 2007
Coast to coast, states are wrestling with how best to treat the legions of emotionally troubled foster children in their care. Critics contend that powerful psychiatric drugs are overused and say poor record-keeping masks the scope of the problem. Nationwide, there are more than 500,000 children in foster care at any one time, and more than half have mental illness or serious behavioral problems, according to the Child Welfare League of America.

Local Fostered and Adopted Youth Empowered In Retreat
WEAU-TV 13 – March 17, 2007
A Minnesota based youth advocacy team helped lead a day-long retreat in Eau Claire designed to empower local fostered and adopted youth to speak out and make their voices heard. The retreat offered young people who’ve been adopted or are in foster care the chance to connect with others facing a similar experience, sharing stories of the challenges they’ve faced, while learning how to use those stories to make a difference.

Foster grandparents give “unparalleled love”
The Voice - March 14, 2007
They are described as having “unparalleled love and devotion” by the organization that sponsors them. They are the 72 foster grandparents at various locations in St. Clair County including schools, day care centers, head start programs, a teen-parenting program, and a juvenile detention center. The Council on Aging Inc., serving St. Clair County, in cooperation with the Michigan Foster Grandparent Program, has been training and sending out seniors to influence youth for the past 30 years.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


College-bound seniors load up early
Des Moines Register – March 5, 2007
The number of high school students enrolled at community colleges has increased 60 percent since 2002, a new Iowa Department of Education report shows. High school students are becoming so proficient at earning college credit that 4 in 10 students at Iowa Central Community College are still in high school. Community college officials said the trend is a positive one because students become more engaged in classes during their senior year, and the extra credits give them the freedom to take fewer classes per semester in college so they can focus on grades or pick up another major. Officials at some public and private colleges are concerned, however. They say that students are taking college credit before they are ready to earn grades that are high enough to get them into college.

Patrick wants to raise dropout age
The Boston Globe – March 6, 2007
Massachusetts students should no longer be allowed to drop out of school at 16, Governor Deval Patrick said yesterday, endorsing a plan to raise the mandatory school attendance age to 18. Concerns about the cost of raising the mandatory age and how schools would enforce it quickly emerged yesterday, even among supporters of the plan. Leaders of teachers unions and school superintendents said yesterday that schools would need more money and programs, such as extra tutoring and counseling, to enforce the law.

YouthBuild: Making a difference one life at a time
Cherokee Sentinel – March 7, 2007
The local YouthBuild organization gives hope and a new start for a bright future to area high school dropouts. For the past two years area students ranging in age from 16-24 have taken charge and responsibility for their lives taking advantage of a national program that empowers each participant to strive to make a difference not only in their lives but to help others. One way the organization makes a difference in others’ lives is the building of new homes for homeless or low-income families. The youth obtain job training skills in construction and are working to obtain their General Equivalence Diploma (GED). Also, students participate in life skills training, leadership skills and career building assistance through the process.

Juvenile Justice

Youth prison reform on table
Contra Costa Times – March 7, 2007
Sacramento- Aiming to cut costs and speed reforms in California’s troubled youth prison system, state officials are suddenly proposing what advocates have spent 20 years fighting for: transferring all nonviolent offenders and all girls and young women back to their homes communities. Versions of the plan to keep juvenile offenders out of the state’s violent prisons have been tried before. This time, there’s unexpected urgency from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration. The plan would save taxpayers at least $42.9 million, put youth offenders in more treatment-focused, county-run programs and free up cells that could ease the adult prison overcrowding crisis.

Foster Care

Foster parents needed to help Hispanic children
The Arizona Republic – March 5, 2007
Hispanic children make up about a third of the estimated 9,800 children in the Arizona’s foster care system, according to the state’s most recent numbers. The state does not track the ethnicity of licensed foster parents, but social service agencies said the percentage of licensed foster families who are Hispanic is very low, and they struggle to match Hispanic children with Hispanic families.

Working together for the sake of kids
Chicago Tribune – March 4, 2007
Across the country during the last decade, there has been a shift within child-welfare systems toward encouraging foster parents to work with birth parents, child-welfare experts said. In Illinois, child-welfare officials say the better the relationship between birth and foster parents, the higher the rate of children successfully returned to their birth parents.

Baptist agency offers PAL to young adults leaving foster care
The Baptist Standard – March 9, 2007
Baptist Child & Family Services has opened Texas’ first Preparation for Adult Living support program outside of urban areas for youths aging out of foster care. The Kerrville Transition Center will serve hundreds of foster and at-risk-youth ages 15 to 23. In addition to job skills and interpersonal skills training, hundreds of youth are expected to get help from Baptist Child & family Services with money management, housing and transportation, health and safety issues and planning for a successful future.

Monday, March 05, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Educators face new technological challenge
Daily Herald – February 22, 2007
Too few students in Illinois schools have the technological skills needed to compete in and out of the classroom, research shows. Starting next February, federal law requires every school district nationwide to grade the technological literacy of its eighth-graders.

Schools are finding longer days can help kids make the grade
Chicago Tribune – February 25, 2007
Harris runs Fletcher-Maynard Academy, a combined public elementary and middle school in Cambridge, Mass., that is experimenting with an extended, eight-hour school day. The school, which serves mostly poor, minority students, is one of 10 in the state experimenting with a longer day as part of $6.5 million program.

Program to boost AP enrollment
The Charleston Gazette – February 28, 2007
Not enough low-income students in West Virginia are exposed to advanced high school courses, experts say. Two educational agencies will launch a pilot program this fall in hopes of raising those statistics. Students eligible for free and reduced-price school meals receive fee waivers to offset the cost of AP exams.

Juvenile Justice

S.F. lawmaker urges reform for youth murderers
Mercury News – February 27, 2007
Sacramento- A lawmaker who worked as a school psychologist in the Bay Area before turning to politics said Monday he wants young offenders who are tried as adults and convicted of first-degree murder to no longer face life sentences without parole. Instead, he said, the maximum penalty should be 25 years to life in prison—with a chance of parole.

Suit challenges juvenile system
The Enquirer – March 1, 2007
A local children’s advocacy group, a state children’s advocacy group and a Cincinnati law firm are accusing the Ohio Department of Youth Services, which runs the state’s juvenile prisons, of holding teenagers longer than their sentences call for. The lawsuit said DYS is “arbitrarily and unilaterally” extending the minimum sentences the teenagers are supposed to serve and requiring the teenagers to complete programming as a condition of release without making the programming available.

Battle Brewing On Juvenile Justice
Hartford Courant – February 28, 2007
Connecticut police chiefs say a proposal to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to be treated as juveniles in the criminal justice system would hinder investigations and potentially cost towns money. Speaking to lawmakers at a public hearing at the state Capital complex Tuesday, West Hartford Police Chief James J. Strillacci said requiring a parent or legal guardian to be present before a 16- or 17-year-old can be questioned would create more work for police departments already strapped for staff.

Foster Care

State’s shift from using group homes questioned
Portland Press Herald - February 24, 2007
Augusta – A simmering feud over where troubled children should live is moving from Maine’s social service agencies to the halls of the State House, as legislators prepare to decide whether an outside expert should scrutinize the state’s housing practices for abused and neglected children. The dispute pits agencies that operate group homes for children against the state Department of Health and Human Services. At issue is the state’s decision to find permanent homes for more children and place fewer in privately run group homes—or discharge them from group homes more quickly than in the past.

Child welfare system improves
Philadelphia Inquirer – February 27, 2007
New Jersey’s long-troubled child welfare system is showing signs of improvement, according to the federal monitor appointed to track the state’s progress. New Jersey met its court-mandated goals from July through December 2006 for fixing its fractured system and, in some instances, exceeded them, the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington said in a report released yesterday. “New Jersey is finally on a positive path toward reforming the way it delivers child welfare services to children and families,” the report states.

Feds should pay to help families stay together
Des Moines Register – March 3, 2007
The bill being introduced in the Iowa Legislature encouraging social workers to place siblings together in foster care recognizes how important it is for foster children to stay connected with family (“Keep Sibling Together in Foster Care,” Feb. 13). Nationwide, almost 25 percent of children in foster care are living in the homes of grandparents and other relatives. Research show that these youth are more likely to live with their brothers and sisters and to stay connected with friends, family, teachers and all that is familiar. Yet, federal foster-care funds cannot currently be used to support foster children living with relatives who choose to become legal guardians of children.