Tuesday, May 29, 2007

This Week’s News: Youth in Transition


Embrace diversity to reduce drop-outs
Salem Statesman-Journal – May 21, 2007
Anyone who has watched the older kids pouring through the exits of a high school carrying their flutes, their lacrosse sticks, their skateboards and their hearts on their sleeves has seen how fervently they project their individuality. Unfortunately, among those shy kids, jittery kids, kids who wear flip-flops, bright kids, scary kids -- even kids with pink mohawks -- sprinting for their cars, moseying toward the park or loitering with their friends at the bus stop, many will not feel included enough, or encouraged enough, or important enough, to stay with high school until they graduate. In school districts from Portland to New York, educators grappling with growing drop-out rates have made some common discoveries. They find that kids who quit high school probably started having trouble many years earlier; that the establishment of strong relationships between students and educational professionals is essential, and that improving completion rates requires providing a variety of solutions, because there are so many different kinds of kids.

High school dropout rates on the decline but state report shows increase among Hispanics
Lexington Herald-Leader – May 25, 2007
Hispanic students dropped out of school at a higher rate than their white peers for the third year in a row, according to a report released today by the Kentucky Department of Education. "We have more Hispanics than we used to have, and with a larger population you may see that the dropout rates may increase," said KDE spokeswoman Lisa Gross. "Dropouts are dropouts, no matter what their ethnicity. Keeping kids from dropping out is probably the toughest work that a school will do." Overall, high school dropout rates fell from 3.47 percent to 3.31 percent, and the graduation rate increased from 82.86 percent to 83.26 percent, the annual report shows.

NYC: High School Graduation Rate at 60 Percent
1010 WINS – May 22, 2007
New York City says high school graduation rates have reached a record-breaking 60 percent. The city says it calculates the rate differently from the state, which announced last month that graduation rates had reached 50 percent. Critics say the city has released the data to counteract a state report on reading scores, expected to show lackluster improvement.

Juvenile Justice

Jail or a ‘baby-sitter?’
Jackson Hole Star-Tribune – May 27, 2007
Here's a scenario: Suppose that the only police officer on duty late at night in Evansville finds a 17-year-old passed out on a park bench. Sure enough, the youngster has been drinking. But dispatchers can't get a hold of his parents -- they're out of town on vacation. Police in Wyoming have two choices: They can stay with youngsters until they're sober -- hoping that no other calls demand their attention -- or they can violate the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act by sending kids to jail. Right now, kids often are sent to jail. It's one issue up for discussion by the Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee over the next several months. The committee holds its first interim meeting June 7-8, and a review of Wyoming's juvenile justice system is listed among the committee's top priorities.

Youth home is under fire
Chicago Tribune – May 27, 2007
Cook County's top child welfare official is objecting to placement of state wards in a Rockford facility that has a troubled history and faces a resurgence of reported violence, records show. The Mill, a non-profit agency that treats troubled teens, encountered a spate of problems in 2004 and again early this year, when the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services stopped sending state wards there.

Foster Care

Record numbers of foster kids leave program as adults
USA Today – May 24, 2007
A record number of teens are leaving the foster care system without a family to help them, and many fail to make it on their own, says a report being released today. The number who leave the system because they turn 18 increased 41% to 24,407 between 1998 and 2005. The spike occurred despite a drop in the number of children in foster care, according to government figures in the report.

Fewer families welcome foster kids
Sacramento Bee – May 22, 2007
The number of Californians welcoming foster children into their homes has plummeted 30 percent in the last decade, and tumbled even more in some counties like Sacramento and San Bernardino, according to two new reports being released today by county welfare and children's advocates. The reports cite low reimbursement rates as one of the main reasons counties aren't able to find and retain more foster family homes. The state has not granted an increase in six years even though the cost of living has risen more than 20 percent. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to maintain the rate in his proposed 2007-08 budget as part of an ongoing effort to balance the state budget, said Shirley Washington, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Social Services. Welfare and children's advocates, who announced the reports' findings at the Capitol on Tuesday, say California is facing a crisis in finding enough families willing to accept the state's nearly 80,000 foster children needing stable homes.

Former Foster Children and Their Supporters Create Vital – and Special – Support Systems
BlackAmericaweb.com – May 23, 2007
In 1999, Casey Family Programs conducted extensive interviews with more than 1,800 foster care alumni across the country for its National Alumni Study, in which a large percentage of alumni expressed a desire to help others who were in the foster care. As a result, Casey created an alumni relations department, which made connections with 1,400 foster care alumni, and discovered many of them were actively working in a number of ways to help others who were or had been in foster care. Through those efforts came Foster Care Alumni of America, an organization founded in 2004 that aims to provide a supportive community for people who have been through foster care and opportunities to work together with allies to improve policies and practices that affect those in the system. FCAA is currently undertaking their first membership drive and has created a community art project, “Exploring the Culture of Foster Care,” which is a collection of postcards submitted by hundreds of youth and alumni of foster care from across the country that describe their experiences in the system.

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