Monday, July 14, 2008

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Illegal immigrants face threat of no college
USA Today – July 6, 2008
Some states are making it harder for illegal immigrants to attend college by denying in-state tuition benefits or banning undocumented students. In the past two years, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and Oklahoma have refused in-state tuition benefits to students who entered the USA illegally with their parents but grew up and went to school in the state. That represents a reversal from earlier this decade, when 10 states passed laws allowing in-state rates for such students. This summer, South Carolina became the first state to bar undocumented students from all public colleges and universities. Opponents say students shouldn’t be penalized for their parents’ actions. Helping them is “the right thing to do even if it’s unpopular,” says North Carolina state Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Democrat who introduced a bill that would prevent state institutions from asking about students’ immigration status.

Homeless children get a taste of college with University of Texas at Dallas program
The Dallas Morning News – July 5, 2008
Single mothers are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. In Dallas County, more than 2,000 women and children can be found living on the streets or in shelters on any given day, according to a 2007 Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance report. Many of these children jump from school to school, falling behind, dropping out and ending up in poverty like their parents. Rainbow Days, a Dallas-based nonprofit that provides life skills education to high-risk children, wants to break that cycle. Every year, the organization brings local children living in shelters to UT Dallas for a taste of college life. Most have never set foot on a college campus before. Neither have their parents. Rainbow Days doesn’t track its students, but its leaders believe in the program’s ability to fuel their ambitions and expand their horizons – in just one week.

Preventing dropouts key in econ. develop.
Daily Leader - July 9, 2008
“In the industrial community, there’s an economic impact when students drop out of school,” Smith said. “The state is losing money because students aren’t getting their diplomas. We hear from industries all the time that the number one thing they need is a trained workforce.” According to department of education statistics shown by Smith, the estimated lifetime earnings in Mississippi lost by one class of dropouts is estimated at $4 billion. In order to move the state toward a lower dropout rate, the department of education will require each school district to implement dropout prevention plans this fall. But Smith said local organizations like the chamber should also get involved in local schools to assist in any way possible. Smith said Mississippi school districts are losing an average of 2,000 students before they ever enter high school. In order to improve this number, she said, communities must come together and identify students who are at risk of dropping out.

Juvenile Justice

Close-to-Home Treatment for Youths Gains Notice - July 7, 2008
Dr. Clarice Bailey was sent to New York City by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to find out what it’s like inside the city’s program for juvenile justice reform. The Institute had its eye on the Department of Probation initiative called “Project Zero,” which seeks alternative kinds of rehabilitation to locking up young offenders in juvenile jail. Probation Commissioner Martin Horn started the program in 2003, with “zero” standing for the goal of sending no kids to juvenile correctional facilities outside the city. Instead, they would return home to live with their families, attend school as usual, and participate in intensive therapy sessions aimed at helping them get on the right path from inside their own neighborhoods. In the year before Project Zero began, 1,300 to 1,500 New York City youths were sent to juvenile facilities, according to Department of Probation (DOP) statistics. In 2004, the Department sent 1,257 juveniles to state correctional facilities, and by 2007, 795 juveniles were admitted. DOP data also show that from 2002 to 2007, the number of city youth incarcerated as a result of their Family Court judgment decreased by 27 percent. The DOP reports that this decline was caused by the Project Zero initiative.

S. F. juvenile hall braces for detainee surge
San Francisco Chronicle – July 4, 2008
The population of San Francisco’s juvenile hall is likely to spike now that the city has reversed its policy of shielding juvenile illegal immigrants convicted of felonies from federal immigration officials, city officials said Thursday. And the undocumented youths are likely to see the length of their stays in detention increase dramatically as the juvenile probation department faces fewer alternatives to locking them up. At least one city official warned that many of the teenagers could be detained for a year or more. In San Francisco, alternatives to locking them up include home detention with electronic ankle monitors, a stay at a group home, mandatory check-ins at four city-funded nonprofit centers that are open from 3 to 9pm daily, and participation in community programs that offer mentors and counseling. National research shows that finding alternatives to incarceration and stressing rehabilitation lowers the likelihood youths will commit more crimes, improves chances they’ll stay in school and saves tax dollars. But none of those options appear viable for illegal immigrant youths charged with felonies in San Francisco.

Foster Care

House Resolution Recognizes the Importance of Providing Workplace Opportunities for Foster Youth
Market Watch – July 11, 1008
A Congressional briefing will be held today to discuss House Resolution 1332, introduced yesterday by Congressman Dennis A. Cardoza (D-Calif.). Congress is being asked to support the resolution which encourages employment opportunities for foster youth. Every year, more than 25, 000 foster youth age out of the foster care system with few resources to start their own lives. Research shows that these children are at a higher risk than their peers for bouts of homelessness, criminal activity and incarceration. Many lack a stable environment due to numerous foster home placements, and have limited family or community connections. Internships level the playing field for foster youth by providing them with access into the professional workplace, where they can build resumes, network with others and launch their careers. These experiences prove that with the right support, foster students can succeed and flourish.

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