Sunday, April 13, 2008

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Career Program Simulates Real World
WTOK – April 8, 2008
An organization called Jobs for Mississippi Graduates has made lowering the state’s dropout rate its number one goal. Students say they believe it’s working. At a career development conference in Jackson this week, students are entering the “real world” armed with booklets listing a different job and monthly income. They must balance their budget while paying bills, taxes and buying groceries. It’s eye-opening for some, but also a difficult task, made even more difficult if they drop out of high school. Many of these students were in danger of falling short in school, becoming another statistic. Now they look forward to what’s next after they graduate. Teachers known as “job specialists” guide students through a class that’s an hour a day, five days a week. Once in the Jobs for Mississippi Graduates program, 95 percent graduate high school. And lessons go beyond the classroom with community projects and field trips.

Metro Detroit schools coping with surge of homeless children
The Detroit News – April 7, 2008
The 8-year- old is one of growing number of homeless children attending schools throughout Metro Detroit, where the number of children known to have no fixed address has shot up by more than 70 percent in the last three years. The state Department of Education estimates it’s serving about 20,000 homeless students statewide, including 3,540 in Detroit alone. And those are just the children they know about. Experts say many parents are too embarrassed to admit they are homeless, or are afraid to ask for help out of fear their children will be take away and placed in foster care. The problem is mushrooming as more Michigan families face joblessness, home foreclosures and other effects of the state’s dour economy. And homelessness shakes the very foundations of childhood, making it hard for kids to stay in school and interrupting their social, emotional and academic development, experts say. Homelessness also impacts school districts struggling to make ends meet, because federal law requires schools to assist homeless children, which includes those doubling up with relatives, living in homeless shelters or staying in cars on the street. The federal government reimburses some costs, lime backpack and school supplies, but other mandates, like transportation, are unfunded.

Juvenile Justice

Ruling limits juvenile detention
The Miami Herald – April 10, 2008
In a decision that could hasten care to youthful offenders with mental illness, an appeals court ordered the immediate release of a Broward County teen from a juvenile lockup, ruling the boy couldn’t be held indefinitely due to lack of bed space in a treatment program. The boy, identified in an opinion of the Fourth District Court of Appeal Wednesday only as B.N., was declared incompetent to proceed to trial, and ordered into psychiatric treatment by the state Department by the state Department of Children & Families at a specialized North Florida youth camp for alleged delinquents. Under Florida law, juveniles cannot be held in pretrial detention longer than 21 days. Wednesday’s ruling is the first to clearly state that a child cannot be detained past 21 days simply because a treatment bed is unavailable said Diane M. Cuddihy, Broward’s chief assistance public defender. “Persons committed to the custody of the department are entitled to appropriate treatment in an appropriate setting, regardless of the Legislature’s failure to adequately fund DCF,” the petition said. “Our biggest concern is that children linger at the detention center, and there is not a lot of mental health there,” Gonzalez-Levine said.

Clemson youth program receives grant
The Greenville News – April 9, 2008
Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute (YLI) has been awarded $3,000 by the South Carolina Arts Commission for 2008-2009. The support will allow YLI to incorporate arts into its educational curriculum at the W.W. Long Youth Development Center (YDC) in Aiken. The YDC is a partnership program of YLI and the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice, designed to divert nonviolent, low-risk offenders ages 12 to 18 from the state’s Juvenile Justice facility. While serving 30- to 90-day sentences in a residential camp-like setting, juvenile offenders from across the state learn behavior modification and continue their education with unique, hands-on curriculum modules that align with S.C. educational standards.

Foster Care

Foster parents get nights out
Statesman Journal – April 10, 2008
Billed as Foster Parents Night Out, this four-hour stretch of time brought trained volunteers together to play with and care for children. Foster parents, meanwhile, got a well-deserved break. Today, there are seven Foster Parent Nigh Out events held in and around Salem, sponsored by faith communities. Each church sets a regular date and time each month, organizes activities and meals, supports the program financially and finds volunteers. Safety is a priority, of course. DHS runs criminal-background checks on all volunteers and provides a training session that all volunteers must attend. Coordinators say their communities have embraced the program.

County accepts foster youth academic performance grant
The Union-Tribune – April 8, 2008
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to accept a $150,000 grant for a program to monitor the academic performance of foster youth. The money from the Stuart Foundation will allow the county Office of Education to hire six counselors to assist the approximately 3,200 school-age children in foster homes, said Mary Harris, the county’s director of child welfare services. Cox said foster teens can move as many as 10 times while in high school, often changing schools in the process. Besides the emotional trauma, students who frequently move sometimes have to repeat classes, taking them off track for graduation, he said. The program “will increase school attendance and academic performance,” Cox said.

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