Monday, November 24, 2008

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Dropout rates down - Alternative programs keeping students in class
The Advocate – November 24, 2008
While the state eyes how it can quickly improve its high school graduation rates and reduce the number of dropouts, alternative programs in Lafayette Parish show success at keeping students in the classroom. In the 2006-07 school year, 635 students dropped out of high school in Lafayette Parish, according to figures reported to the Louisiana Department of Education.

Dropout rates spur solutions
Corsicana Daily Sun – November 22, 2008
Kids who drop out of school face an uphill battle in today’s world. Armed with few skills and experiences, no diploma, and no proof they can finish something important, drop-outs often end up working minimum-wage jobs and needing government or charitable assistance on a regular basis. Two years ago, the high school started a program called ATTACK, in which each student is assigned to an adult at the high school, and they meet in small groups on a regular basis to go over grades, and even in the students’ homes. Last year, the district began AVID, which beefs up students’ skills, like note-taking and test-taking, while also providing incentives, such as college trips and mentoring with local professionals.

There's a message for young people in 80-year-old's mission
Winston-Salem Journal – November 23, 2008
At first blush, Kenneth "Al" Williams of Thomasville might not seem like a poster boy for staying in school. He dropped out during World War II but rose to the level of plant manager, earning a decent living. It wasn't until this fall, long after he retired from the factory, that he got his general equivalency diploma -- at the age of 80. But when you hear all of Williams' story, you realize that he is an example for others of the importance of graduating from high school, in a state and region in need of much improvement on graduation rates.

Juvenile Justice

Officials consider juvenile peer juries
The Plainfield Sun – November 23, 2008
Besides fashion and music, local teens are getting a chance to influence their peers in the legal system. Local school administrators, police officers and social workers met with the Will County Juvenile Justice Council to discuss peer juries for juvenile offenders. Instead of going through the court system, law enforcement can refer a teen who's been arrested to a group of high school student volunteers who will hear the case and decide an appropriate punishment, which is typically assigning hours of community service. The teen is spared a criminal record and police and prosecutors are spared the time and expense of prosecution.

Restorative justice an option for young offenders – November 20, 2008
The consequences for the 13-year-old boy accused of bringing a loaded gun to school are serious. He faces expulsion from Cole Middle School and has been charged with five weapons-related misdemeanor counts, authorities said. The boy was arrested and now is among many other youth offenders who end up in the juvenile court system. But instead of responding with iron-fisted justice, do cases like this one provide a teachable moment and serve as an entry point for restorative justice intervention? The practice of restorative justice makes it possible to address harms, needs and causes, advocates say, adding that it is a model that enforces accountability, encourages moral transformation and meaningfully involves victims.

Restorative Justice offers more holistic alternative response to juvenile crime
Chicago County Press – November 18, 2008
The week of November 16-23 is "Restorative Justice Week." All around the planet societies and organizations are promoting this alternative model to responding to crime. Locally, our police officers, courts and schools have turned to the restorative justice model for non-violent and misdemeanor offenses. There are at least a couple hundred "cases" referred from Chisago County to the Youth Service Bureau Restorative Justice program.

Foster Care

Pinellas foster kids needn't fly solo
St. Petersburg Times – November 23, 2008
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Ray Ulmer waits to hear cases of juveniles facing charges from shoplifting to drug possession. Most have an adult by their side. Some are with grandmas, others are sandwiched between mom and dad. But for the countless foster children who cycle through, it's often a solo endeavor. Pinellas-Pasco public defender Bob Dillinger has set out to change that with the Crossover, a pilot program that pairs foster children with public defenders who handle not only their criminal cases, but also matters involving their family situation.

CYF services help youths leaving system
New Pittsburgh Courier – November 20, 2008
In the past, youths in the foster care system have had to face harsh realities when turning 18 and leaving the system. However, the Office of Children Youth and Families has helped to create The Bridge of Pittsburgh, a facet of its services aimed at helping young people through this transition process.

Limbo lessened for Bucks County’s foster kids
Bucks County Courier Times – November 20, 2008
While many of Bucks County’s foster kids stay in the system too long, officials here — unlike other parts of the state — have a plan for every child that will free them from foster care limbo, a state child advocacy group said Wednesday. Lynne Rainey, executive director of Children and Youth, said that her staff works hard to protect children from slipping through the cracks by focusing on the problems that landed them in foster care in the first place.

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