Sunday, July 15, 2007

This Week’s News: Youth in Transition


Public Schools Feed Multitudes in the Summer
New York Times – July 10, 2007
The New York City school system is pushing far beyond the corridors of summer school in delivering free meals, handing out breakfast and lunch for the first time in housing projects, libraries, day camps and church groups to become one of the nation’s largest summer soup kitchens. Education Department officials say they expect to significantly exceed last summer’s totals of 4.4 million lunches and 2 million breakfasts. And last summer’s figure was already more than twice as many meals as Citymeals-on-Wheels provided for homebound elderly residents in a full year, and well beyond the reach of other big-city public school districts like Los Angeles and Chicago.

Public schools grapple with Muslim prayer
Christian Science Monitor – July 12, 2007
Like a growing number of school districts around the country, San Diego's is changing its ways to meet the needs of its Islamic students. Here, a controversy with constitutional overtones erupted: In accommodating Muslim students, is the school unfairly promoting religion? The school's policy "presumes that Christians are less religious and less inspired to worship and praise the Lord and come together," says Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute. He is asking the school district to set up special rooms where Christians can pray, too. This outcry, and others like it from conservative commentators and attorneys, suggest that the whole matter may land in court. Potentially at issue is to what extent actions taken by a public school to accommodate special religious needs of some students might require similar allowances for other students.

Juvenile Justice

RI Prosecutes 17-Year-Olds to Save Money
Washington Post – July 13, 2007
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- When state legislators passed a law last month requiring that 17-year-olds be tried as adults, they hoped the reduced cost of providing for adult prisoners rather than juveniles would save the state about $3.6 million. But almost immediately, prison officials said they didn't think the move would save any money, and critics around the country denounced it as shortsighted and wrong.

Juvenile justice: What we know -- and what we need to learn
Orlando Sentinel – July 13, 2007
In the next few months, Gov. Charlie Crist and Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Walter McNeil will convene a "Blueprint Commission" to take an objective look at juvenile justice. The spotlight will certainly be focused on the failings of the current system. Part of what I believe we will learn in Florida (as other states have already learned) is that for juvenile justice to be effective it must incorporate a balanced approach. This includes mechanisms to address public safety (what was described in Tuesday's Orlando Sentinel article, "State's juvenile justice: 'It's a train wreck' ") to ensure that dangerous youth are not allowed back out on the streets to re-offend. But the system must also include opportunities to prevent, intervene, redirect and divert youth from the system altogether. And those who do enter the system in need of treatment and rehabilitation should get what they need to re-enter their communities successfully.

State training schools not working; overhaul imperative
The Clarion-Ledger – July 15, 2007
For several years now, a group of juvenile justice advocates has lobbied to overhaul Mississippi's system of dealing with youth offenders. The reformers, including the Mississippi Youth Justice Project and others, are convinced community treatment centers would be more effective than Oakley and Columbia Training Schools. Multiple issues at these facilities are well documented, including practices that led to last month's suspensions of six workers at Columbia. Still, the state Department of Human Services has discarded input from the Youth Justice Project and the Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse, including pleas to close the training schools.

Foster Care

Committee OK's foster care bill
Vallejo Time Herald – July 13, 2007
A bill designed to protect disabled foster youth has passed a 4-1 vote of the Senate Human Services Committee and now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee. AB 1331, filed by Assembly member Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, would require county child welfare agencies to screen all foster youth at age 161 2 for mental or physical disabilities and help them apply for federal aid so that it's in place when they reach age 18. The bill also permits foster youth to stay in the system past the age of 18 if they have Supplemental Security Income applications pending.

Members of Congress Honor Foster Youth Interns, Highlight Need for Foster Children to Have Permanent Families
PR Newswire – July 13, 2007
On Capitol Hill today, Members of Congress from both Houses and political parties participated in a briefing about the U.S. foster care system, and honored the accomplishments of 15 former foster youth who have spent the summer as Congressional interns. The briefing, hosted by the nonpartisan, non-profit Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) and titled "Finding Our Place: The Importance of Permanency" featured Members of Congress and former foster youth and emphasized the need for permanent, loving families for our nation's 500,000 foster children.

Law helps abused get green cards
Los Angeles Times – July 8, 2007
Abused children across California and the nation who are undocumented but entitled to green cards are frequently not receiving them -- putting them at risk of deportation and drastically limiting their educational and work opportunities. Under federal law, certain abused, neglected or abandoned dependents of the state are eligible for legal residency, but officials in many counties are unaware of the benefit. As a result, many youths leave foster care as illegal immigrants, social workers and advocates say.

No comments: