Monday, May 12, 2008

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


High dropout rates Alabama’s biggest economic problem, study finds
The Birmingham News – April 30, 2008
Alabama’s high school dropout rate is the biggest threat to the state’s long-term economic growth and a large reason why people here earn less than the average American, a nonprofit education advocacy group states in a report being released today. The Southern Education Foundation, based in Atlanta, commissioned a study that concluded almost 60 percent of the state’s income gap with the rest of the nation can be blamed on Alabama’s lower levels of education. “Something has to be done about that extraordinary dropout rate, or the consequences are going to be far more severe in Alabama’s income and economy than they ever have been,” said Steve Suitts, the foundation’s vice president. The study found that if Alabama’s education levels were equal to the national average, 59 percent of the gap between Alabama’s per capita income and the national average could be closed. “It really quantifies what I think is common sense for most people, and that is that in an increasingly global society, where the rewards of education decided whether someone is going to get a decent job, that education matters a great deal more than it used to,” Suitts said.

Will raising age limit lower dropout rates?
Star Tribune – May 3, 2008
Should Minnesota follow the lead of many other states and raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18? Minnesota legislators hope to solidify just such a proposal in the next few days. The intent is to force at least some of the state’s thousands of high school dropouts every year to state in school. Though there’s little evidence nationwide that raising the dropout age improves graduation rates, proponents want to drive the point home that it’s bad to leave school at 16 or 17. There appears to be no direct correlation between a higher mandatory attendance age and graduation rates. Data from 2004 and 2005 that 16 of 28 states that, at the time, had a dropout age of 16 had graduation rates above the national average of 75 percent. Even proponents of raising the dropout age concede more needs to be done to make sure the kids staying in school can find a reason for being there.

Juvenile Justice

Del. aims to reduce juvenile recidivism
The Daily Times – May 11, 2008
Juvenile offenders who are locked up in Delaware are more likely than not to wind up being arrested again, either as youth or adults, according to the latest state study of recidivism rates. The study shows that 78 percent of offenders released from juvenile justice centers in fiscal 2006 were re-arrested within a year. Fourty-four percent of released offenders were re-arrested for felonies, while 28 percent were re-arrested on misdemeanor charges and 5 percent for violating probation. To find ways to improve the juvenile justice system, including reducing recidivism, officials recently hired a consultant to conduct an assessment. Shay Bilchik director of The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University, began his review in March. He is expected to have a preliminary report by the end of June.

Foster Care

A Foster Child Comes of Age
The Washington Post – May 8, 2008
A recent study by the Pew Charitable Trust found that an increasing number of young people are “aging out” of foster care, even as research shows that many are ill-prepared for life after they system. Many have not finished high school or college and have limited employment and job skills. A 2005 study by researchers at the University of Chicago found they have higher rates or homelessness and incarceration than their peers. Virginia and other states are starting to address these problems, with some allowing children to stay in foster care longer, offering transitional housing and providing financial assistance so that they can pursue higher education. The University of Chicago researchers found that young people coming out of foster care often are more isolated socially than peers and are more likely to suffer from mental health issues.

State foster care could get boost
Detroit Free Press – May 8, 2008
Michigan’s strained foster care system might get some support from the private sector under a plan soon to be introduced in the state Legislature. The bills outlined Tuesday by two Republican lawmakers would create a state foster care advisory board to propose improvements and help educate people about how they can help support the support. The panel also would help foster children who are getting older and soon will be on their own to transition out of the system. The plan would create a trust fund that would be supported by charitable donations, including a checkoff option on state income tax forms. Department of Human Services spokeswoman Maureen Sorbet said Tuesday that lawmakers shared the concept with department representatives last week and they are willing to look at the proposal. Last month, the Department of Human Services announced a task force of more than 60 members aimed at improving Michigan child welfare systems including protective services, adoption, juvenile justice and foster care.

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