Sunday, June 10, 2007

This Week’s News: Youth in Transition


Raise the dropout age?
Charlotte Observer – June 5, 2007
Question: N.C. law now allows students to drop out of school once they reach 16. But state legislators are considering legislation to raise the dropout age to 18. Lawmakers and educators say it sends the wrong message to allow students to drop out before they finish 12th grade. Opponents say raising the dropout age only creates more problems, with more disruptive students who don't want to be in school. What do you think? Should students be allowed to drop out of school at age 16? Should the state raise the dropout age?

High School Students Challenged to Beat Failure and Frustration in ‘Break the Cycle’ Confabs – June 6, 2007
They are no-holds-barred conferences designed to jolt youth of color out of low self-esteem and scholastic failure and into confidence and action to achieve life-enhancing successes. The latest of these nationally recognized Break The Cycle conferences, held Friday at Los Angeles' Crenshaw High School, stimulated wild applause from the 300 students who listened intently as a team of six former "failures" challenged them to believe they can penetrate all barriers to success. Hosted by the National Black Business Council and its affiliate, the Institute of the National Black Business Council, the Crenshaw High conference was co-sponsored by the SEIU-United Long Term Care Workers Union, Cathay, Comerica, Union of California, Wells Fargo, First Republic and Washington Mutual Banks, Computer Consulting Operations Specialists, Verizon Foundation, WIPO Business Solutions, All Stars Helping Kids and Flip Creative. The conferences also receive financial assistance from the mothers of former Los Angeles Laker All Star Magic Johnson and Miami Heat superstar Dwayne Wade.

Juvenile Justice

Lawmakers begin juvenile justice discussion
Caspar Star Tribune – June 8, 2007
A legislative committee on Thursday opened what likely will be a year and a half of discussion about reforming Wyoming's haphazard juvenile justice system. Attorney General Pat Crank urged the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee to change the system and implement new programs - like more funding for juvenile probation - without imposing a one-size-fits-all juvenile justice system on the state's local courts and communities.

Mental tests planned for youth offenders
Indianapolis Star – June 7, 2007
As many as half of the boys and girls in Indiana’s juvenile detention centers have mental illnesses, and some will be diverted into counseling and other programs under a pilot project in six counties beginning in January. The Indiana State Bar Association announced Thursday that six of the state’s 22 local juvenile detention centers — those in Bartholomew, Clark, Johnson, Lake, Marion and Porter counties — will begin screening youths entering their facilities under a pilot program that’s being embraced by judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, doctors and public policy makers.

State Senate Passes Protections for At-Risk Incarcerated Youth – June 5, 2007
The California Senate on Monday approved basic safeguards to protect youth residing in juvenile justice facilities from abuse and mistreatment. SB 518, the Juvenile Justice Safety and Protection Act, creates a Youth Bill of Rights to protect all young people from harassment and discrimination, including youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Authored by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, and sponsored by Equality California, the measure passed the Senate with a 22-12 vote.

Foster Care

Foster youths forge a proud path to success
Los Angeles Times – June 8, 2007
One hundred fifty foster youths stepped proudly onto the stage of the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Wednesday evening to be recognized for their academic achievement in a ceremony that marked not only their graduation from high school but their transition to new, independent lives. The students, who will attend colleges, universities and vocational schools across the nation, received more than $675,000 in scholarships as well as stipends to purchase business attire for interviews. At Celebration '07, which was sponsored by Los Angeles County and several nonprofits and was attended by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other dignitaries, much was made of the adversity faced by the foster youths.

Foster Care System Gives Parents a Bigger Role
Gotham Gazette – June 2007
Many parents whose children have been placed in foster care feel robbed, cheated, and railroaded – putting parents and child welfare workers in a difficult, often adversarial relationship. Often, parents have been shut out of this discussion. But now, New York City’s child welfare system is relying more and more on parent advocates to help foster care agencies work more effectively with parents. For their part, the agencies have begun to recognize that children benefit when the system works with birth parents – especially since the goal for most kids in foster care is to return them home to their families.

Leno foster child supportive assistance bill passed unanimously by California Assembly
San Francisco Chronicle – June 5, 2007
The California Assembly today unanimously approved a financial and supportive assistance bill authored by Assemblyman Mark Leno for foster youth. Without final passage into law, California foster youth will be left to their own devices at age 18. “For the well over 70% of foster youth in California who dream of getting a higher education, we might as well be posting signs on our universities and colleges that read ‘Keep Out,’” said Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). “While the assistance and support in this measure could never replace the guidance and direction that most young people get from parents throughout their lives, it will give our foster youth the ability to achieve their hopes, dreams and aspirations and open up doors that only a college degree can unlock.”

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