Friday, December 18, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Juvenile Justice

De-Criminalizing Children
The New York Times, New York, NY - December 17, 2009
As many as 150,000 children are sent to adult jails in this country every year — often in connection with nonviolent offenses or arrests that do not lead to conviction. That places them at risk of being raped or battered and increases the chance they will end up as career criminals. To fix this problem, Congress needs to properly reauthorize the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act of 1974, under which states agreed to humanize juvenile justice policies in exchange for more federal aid. This act was largely bypassed in the 1990s when unfounded fears of an adolescent crime wave reached hysterical levels.

Jailing juveniles, Sensible fixes to youth crime and delinquency policies

The Washington Post, Washington, DC - December 14, 2009

The Senate Judiciary Committee should embrace a bill scheduled for debate on Thursday that institutes needed reforms in how the nation deals with youth who run afoul of the law.
The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act does not impose federal strictures on state and local entities, but it provides funds for those that choose to comply with the legislation's guidelines. In this way, the Justice Department, which administers the act, can provide incentives to states to comply with what it considers best practices.

Senate Panel Reports Juvenile Justice Reauthorization Legislation
Press Release, Washington, DC - December 17, 2009
Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday reported bipartisan legislation to reauthorize expiring programs implemented to protect America’s youth. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act was introduced in March by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and senior Committee members Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.). The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act (JJDPA) is the result of more than a year of work among Senate leaders and advocacy groups. The provisions in the legislation will help state and local governments reduce crime and curb recidivism rates among juveniles by authorizing federal funding of prevention, intervention and treatment programs for youths. The bill reported Thursday aims to balance federal support for state programs while respecting the individual criminal justice policies of states.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Plainfield group works to restore park and teach dropouts vital skills
Star-Ledger, Plainfield, NJ – December 9, 2009
One Plainfield organization is trying to intervene with at-risk high school dropouts before they turn to gangs or drugs and teach them life skills with the hopes they will return to the classroom or enter the work force. This week, the Plainfield chapter of the New Jersey Youth Corps received a $25,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection trails grant to continue the service learning component of its program, an ongoing effort to beautify the city’s Green Brook Park.

Intervention program gives students a second chance
Longmont Times-Ledger, Longmont, CO – December 10, 2009
Lacey Freeman, 20, first enrolled in the Open Door program when she was 16. It didn’t stick. Because of problems at home, the Skyline High School dropout moved to Arizona to live with an aunt and worked at a grocery store. But at 19, she wanted something more. She moved back to Longmont and re-entered in Open Door before enrolling at Olde Columbine High School. This May, she graduated valedictorian of Olde Columbine.

Juvenile Justice

At-risk kids gain friends in mentors at CSUS
The Modesto Bee, Turlock, CA – December 14, 2009
It started as a semesterlong assignment that many weren't really thrilled about completing. But as their class obligation drew to a close this month, several California State University, Stanislaus, students planned to continue meeting with the young people they mentored. About 75 juvenile justice students participated in the university's mentoring program, in its fifth year. They met, usually weekly, with at-risk students ranging from elementary to high school at 10 Turlock Unified School District campuses.

Goodwill grant to help at-risk teens

Cape Coral Daily Breeze, Florida – December 12, 2009

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida was a recent benefactor of federal stimulus dollars to help mentor at-risk teens. The federal government awarded Goodwill International $19 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Kirsten O'Donnell, director of public relations, said that amount was split among 56 Goodwill stores nationwide. The overall grant to Goodwill came from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Foster Care

Aging Out of Foster Care
CBS 7, Midland, TX – December 8, 2009
Foster families who have an 18 year old in their care can now help them until the age of 21. Watching Daniela Ontiveros at work you wouldn't know that her life up until now has been a tough journey. A youth specialist with Child Protective Services, Daniela says she sees herself in those she helps and hopes that her life will be a shining example of brighter days. In order to receive care until the age of 21 the foster child must be enrolled in a GED program, college, or trade school.

Local Homeless Kids Are Getting Involved in Their Own Solutions
The Watch, Montrose, CA – December 9, 2009
Brandi Mason knows what it’s like to be a runaway, to grow up in the foster care system, to be homeless. She’s been all three. She’s been a foster child since the age of three, but Mason, now 17, plans to become an attorney who represents kids like herself, kids whose troubles started through no fault of their own, and who often end up on their own. As she prepares to take college entrance exams next year, Mason is already working to solve the problems of homeless kids in Montrose County.

Cakes for Cause: Baking to Benefit Foster Care Youth, Frederick, MD – December 9, 2009
Cakes are often in celebration of a birthday or wedding, but one Frederick organization is hoping to turn a person's love of sweets into a greater commitment to youth in the community. If you mix one pound of purpose and add two cups of care, you've got an organization called Cakes for Cause. Their mission: to help youth who have aged out of the foster care system. Christina Quinn is their newest apprentice. She spent two years in foster care before being adopted at age 10.

Monday, December 07, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Efforts under way to stem U.S. school dropout problem
Reuters, Chicago, IL – December 2, 2009
Jesus Garcia dropped out of high school and figured he was destined for prison or a life shortened by violence -- until he found an alternative school that became the family he never felt he had. "Without this school, kids would be dealing drugs, dying, gang-banging, all of it. Without this school there would be no leaders, no mentors," Garcia, an aspiring chef, told a group of former dropouts who have re-enrolled in alternative schools.

Program works to curb number of high school dropouts
Ledger-Enquirer, LaGrange, GA – December 3, 2009
Inside Callaway Middle School a group of about a dozen students, whether they like it or not, are focused on Reggie Beaty, a former high school dropout but more recently known throughout Georgia for his dropout prevention work. Beaty and his business partner, Tony Owens, are leading the group of Callaway students in a Faces of Change lesson. The Faces of Change curriculum, developed by the two through their business Foundation for Educational Success, is geared toward keeping at-risk students in school through critical thinking skills. It is used across the state including at the high school level in Muscogee County, but is new to the Troup County school system this year.

Taking aim at dropout rate
The Salem News, Salem, OR – November 30, 2009
Carlos Almonte failed four of his eight classes in his junior year, so the likelihood of graduating from Salem High this coming spring was dim. "Graduation didn't seem like something I'd be able to achieve," said Carlos, 17. Now, however, he is earning credits and getting back on track to graduate with his class, thanks to a new program aimed at lowering the high school dropout rate and helping students graduate on time. He is one of 75 students who have participated in an online course-work program in which students can recover credits by retaking an array of courses, all from a computer lab on the ground floor of Salem High School.

Juvenile Justice

Teens get their day in court
The State Journal, Frankfort, KY – December 1, 2009
The prosecutor was ready to throw the book at the defendant, calling her a thief and demanding that she repay her debt to society with 45 hours of community service. The pugnacious attorney in this case wasn’t Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland. It was 14-year-old Logan Patterson, a Western Hills freshman and one of 29 high school students participating in Franklin County Teen Court. Patterson and others – including the defendant, 15-year-old Katie Jackson, also a Western Hills freshman – made up the alternative juvenile justice system sworn in by Franklin County district judges Kathy Mangeot and Chris Olds at the courthouse Monday. The students gave the audience – primarily parents and siblings – a glimpse of the program with a mock trial before they were sworn in. It’s designed to give first-time offenders of non-violent crimes between 10 and 17 a chance to learn from their mistakes and make amends, local law officials involved with the program say.

Program from district attorney's office aims to get kids on right path
Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL – December 5, 2009
A letter from the District Attorney's Office usually gets people's attention. It also helps to reduce disciplinary infractions like fighting; assaults and disruptive demonstrations, according to officials of The Helping Montgomery Families Initiative Program -- a satellite agency of the Montgomery County District Attorney's office. HMFI is a program that focuses on early intervention for at-risk students who have received suspensions in Montgomery Public Schools, said program director Sandra Edwards. The focus in on serious infractions, including threats and intimidation, assaults, criminal mischief, disruptive demonstrations, fighting, disorderly conduct and harassment, she said.

Foster Care

When reality sinks in: THP-Plus program offers guidance to former foster children
The Union, Nevada County, CA – December 3, 2009
It's called emancipation, but for many foster children who age out of the system at 18 or 19, that “freedom from slavery” is more like being thrown into the deep end. Each year in California, approximately 4,200 young adults exit foster care when they turn 18. Deemed to be adults by the state, many end up couch surfing or living in their cars, unable to find stable employment or decent living situations. “Who's ready (to be an adult) at 18?” asked Kerri Fulton, program coordinator for Nevada County's foster youth independent living program. Fulton works with foster youths ages 16 to 21, helping them make that crucial transition to life after foster care. The biggest gap, she said, is housing — and two local nonprofits are aiming to close that gap through a state-funded transitional housing program.

Two teens achieve support, independence with help from holiday fund
The Star-Ledger, New Jersey – December 1, 2009
Other 18-year-olds want independence from their parents. Jerome wants a break with his past as a foster child. But none of his foster families ever talked to him about money management. None helped him develop job skills. He’d lived in many different homes, but never learned to keep one. Aging out of foster care wouldn’t leave him independent. Just alone. Thanks to the Family Service Bureau of Newark, aided by the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, Jerome is not alone. Through the program, Jerome has been connected with resources, has received bus tickets and food, and has gained help finding a residential facility that will help him make the transition to life as an adult.


Youth employment program receives federal money to aid would-be workers in Pennsylvania
The Patriot-News, Pennsylvania – December 1, 2009
The Summer Youth Employment Program, funded in Pennsylvania through $43.5 million in federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act money, helped 9,200 disadvantaged youths get first jobs last summer. Program directors hope to help just as many next summer. They shared what they have learned at the Youth Services Academy this week run by PA Partners at the Grantville Holiday Inn. The two-day conference is designed for professionals in workplace development.

Monday, November 30, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Guard Offers Youths Second Chance
Times Record Online, Arkansas – November 27, 2009
Youths enrolled in the Arkansas National Guard Youth Challenge program receive measured doses of structure and freedom — the goal is teaching at-risk youths who want to change their lives how to do it. “We are a very structured behavior modification program,” program admissions coordinator Hugh Leavell said. Many students accepted into the free 22-week residential program are high school dropouts, but there are restrictions on who can enroll, Leavell said. It is a voluntary program. Youths cannot be court-ordered into it, their parents cannot make them go, and by federal law, participants cannot have a felony conviction. They must demonstrate that they want to see a change in their lives, he said.

San Francisco's school of last resort
San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA – November 29, 2009
With a convicted bank robber and a former methamphetamine user in charge, John Muir Charter School on Treasure Island is not your typical public school. ut the typical public school experience didn't work for the 105 students at John Muir. Among them are former robbers and thieves. Some are teenage parents. All were academic failures elsewhere and, at one point or another, on the state's long list of high school dropouts. Each one wants another chance.

Juvenile Justice

Youngsters get second chance to do the right thing
Tri-Parish Times, Houma, LA – November 29, 2009
Bayou Lafourche Marine Institute in Raceland has been a well-kept secret in the Lafourche and Terrebonne parish area for far too long, says Executive Director Lolita Gray. The non-profit organization is the place where juvenile justice judges opt to send troubled youth instead of having them serve time in a detention center. According to Gray, the Raceland site is a chapter of the AMIkids foundation, which was formed when Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Juvenile Court Judge Frank Orlando decided to decrease the cycle of juvenile offenders in his courtroom.

Breaking the cycle of youth crime
Houston Chronicle, Texas – November 28, 2009
In her nearly three years of handling juvenile cases, Montgomery County Judge Mary Ann Turner has seen a growing number of young people in trouble with the law because of behavior related to a mental health disorder. Their crimes range from truancy and theft to more serious acts such as family violence and assault. The juveniles are placed in detention, but when they get out their problems often persist. “I have detention docket three days a week,” said Turner, who presides over Court-at-law No. 4. “I can look out there, and I know half these kids. If you don't address the underlying cause of the behavior with kids at this age, you can release them, and they'll be back.” To break that cycle, the county has launched a pilot program to get juveniles with mental health needs out of the criminal system and into an intensive program at home.

New Program to Make Probation More Efficient
ABC23, Bakersfield, CA – November 24, 2009
Doing more with less, that's the new mantra of county government as the Board of Supervisors is expecting less and less money the next year or two. So, the board is looking for programs that streamline resources, which is something the probation department began to implement last year. The program is called PACT, or Positive Achievement Change Tool, it's a way to assess juvenile offenders risk of recidivism and what they need to help change their behavior.

Foster Care

Big Family supports needy
Daily Tribune, Oakland, CA – November 27, 2009
Children's advocate overcomes personal tragedies, gives children a happy Christmas. At age 18, Jeanne Fowler walked out the door of the foster care home she'd lived in for nine years and never looked back. Somehow she put the abuse and neglect of a lifetime behind her, became a nurses' aide, wife, loving mother and grandmother. In 1999, she started Big Family of Michigan, which last year provided 6,700 low-income children Christmas gifts and matched 1,500 foster care children throughout the state with Christmas "wish" sponsors.

Age no barrier for one teen who finds permanent home
Democrat and Chronicle, Monroe County, NY – November 27, 2009
In a room at Monroe County Family Court where squirming kids wait to be adopted, Turiq Floyd's muscular physique and serious expression stand out like the exception that he is. At 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, the Greece Athena High School football player towers over his social worker, his soon-to-be mom and even the judge who would approve his fate. Yet at an age when kids typically pull back from their folks, the 17-year-old who had been neglected by his biological family and baptized by the mean streets is heading in another direction. He was adopted last week by his foster mother, Pauline Wilson, whom he long ago started calling Grandma. Ask the bashful guy, who turns 18 in May, why he wanted to be adopted and Turiq pauses. "I need a foundation," he says. "Everybody got to start somewhere."

Family programs highlight issues involved with foster care

The Township Journal, Newton, NJ – November 25, 2009

The Family Success Center at Project Self-Sufficiency has partnered with the Raise Me Up campaign to increase awareness of the benefits of becoming involved with the care of a foster child. The Raise Me Up campaign is an initiative of the Casey Family Programs, the largest national foundation whose sole mission is to advocate for children in foster care. The campaign’s message is simple, “You don’t have to raise a foster child to raise them up. You just have to raise your hand and say you’ll help.”


Blacks hit hard by economy's punch

The Washington Post, Washington, DC – November 24, 2009

These days, 24-year-old Delonta Spriggs spends much of his time cooped up in his mother's one-bedroom apartment in Southwest Washington, the TV blaring soap operas hour after hour, trying to stay out of the streets and out of trouble, held captive by the economy. As a young black man, Spriggs belongs to a group that has been hit much harder than any other by unemployment. Joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old black men has reached Great Depression proportions -- 34.5 percent in October, more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population.

Green jobs training programs receive $55 million
Mother Nature Network - November 24, 2009
Green jobs training programs from across the country have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving – $55 million in grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funds will go to programs to train individuals in underserved communities for the green jobs of today and the future. The Green Jobs Capacity Building Grants totaled $5.8 million and will allow participants in the Labor Department green training programs to expand their client base. These grants are targeted specifically at Native American communities, women, at-risk youth, and farm workers.

Monday, November 23, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


House Democrats Introduce Legislation to End High School Dropout Crisis
eNews Park Forest, Washington, DC – November 19, 2009
Democratic lawmakers announced today they will introduce critical legislation to address the high school dropout crisis, which poses a growing threat to the nation’s economic stability and global competitiveness. Nearly one-third of all high school students do not to graduate every year, costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars in lost revenue. Nationwide, about 7,000 high school students drop out every day. Only about 70 percent of students now graduate from high school with a regular diploma. There are 2,000 “dropout factories” across the country, which produce more than 50 percent of the nation’s dropouts, and a recent study suggests that in the 50 largest U.S. cities, only 53 percent of students graduate on time.

DMACC, D.M. school district start program for dropouts
Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA – November 18, 2009
A program created through a partnership between Des Moines Area Community College and the Des Moines school district aims to give high school dropouts in central Iowa a second chance to continue their education. DMACC and Des Moines school officials announced Tuesday their acceptance of a $300,000 start-up grant from the Walmart Foundation to begin a Gateway to College program, a nationally recognized education model that started in 2000 at Portland Community College in Oregon. The program gives high school dropouts full access to college courses, facilities and support services.

Second chance for school dropouts
Pahrump Valley Times, Pahrump, NV – November 20, 2009
An overview of youth programs was presented by Master Sgt. Albert Sanches of the Air National Guard during Monday's Nye County District School Board meeting. Maj. Keith Alfeiri of the Army National Guard was also on hand to answer questions. Among the free programs offered by the Guard is the Youth Challenge in which participants can earn high school credits, get their GED or high school diploma and learn life coping and job skills. Participants must be high school dropouts or be at risk of dropping out by being behind in credits, expelled or truant.

Juvenile Justice

Wyo. Committee Approves 2 Juvenile Justice Bills
CBS 4, Cheyenne, WY – November 19, 2009
A legislative committee has given approval to two bills aimed at creating uniformity in how juvenile offenders are handled in Wyoming. The bills will be considered by the full Legislature next year. One seeks to establish intake and risk assessment standards for arresting agencies. The other aims to establish standards for the operation of juvenile detention facilities based on national criteria.

Hidden injustice: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in juvenile courts
The Hill, Washington, DC – November 18, 2009
For more than 20 years, the juvenile justice system has steadily become more punitive in how it treats youth accused of delinquent offenses. In some jurisdictions, the pendulum is slowly starting to swing back, with reform efforts underway to develop more fair and effective juvenile courts. Notably absent from these efforts, however, has been a focus on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. The lack of professional guidance for juvenile justice professionals working with these youth is cause for concern. According to a 2009 study by Ceres Policy Research, LGBT youth comprise close to 12% of the overall population of youth in juvenile detention facilities. Despite this compelling statistic, many juvenile justice professionals pay scant—if any—attention to LGBT youth.

Foster Care

Yakima program helps foster kids start college
Seattle PI, Yakima, WA – November 17, 2009
Like a lot of freshmen, Taylor Judd is living in the dorms and getting used to college. It's her first quarter, and she's still figuring things out. "I'm just trying to get my prerequisites done so I can decide what I want to do," the 19-year-old says, sitting recently in the Hopf Student Union Building at Yakima Valley Community College. The program, started in 2006, is designed to help students in foster care pursue and prepare for post-secondary education. Until this year, it was known as the Foster Care to College Mentoring Program and paired students with mentors who received training to guide them through the process and paperwork of applying for college, scholarships, financial aid and housing.

Navy veteran helps teens in foster care learn to fend for themselves
Knox News, Knoxville, TN – November 22, 2009
One dollar was all LaKeisha Fears-Perez had to give, but that one dollar was enough to secure her dream. The mother, grandmother and foster parent is the founder of Utterly Terrific Tots and Teens, 1407 E. Fifth Ave. The center, which opened earlier this year, is part for-profit day care and part nonprofit after-hours refuge for teens in foster care who are about to set out on their own. The U.S. Navy veteran bought the building after spotting it one day. She told the owner all she had was a dollar in her pocket. He was willing to work with her, she said.

Helping youth at a crossroads
News & Record, High Point, NC – November 20, 2009

In the media room of the converted two-story brick home housing the I Am Now program, poster-sized cap-and-gown graduation pictures show the boys who succeeded here. “He was valedictorian at his school,” points out Jah-Pree Jackson, 21, as he crouched over homework to earn an associate’s degree in social work at GTCC. Of another, “They found him under a bridge.’” Young men like Jackson, who admits to quitting school and having done “stupid stuff,” are able to live at the program’s Crossroads House for free while they work toward their high school diplomas and stay off troubled paths. The program’s founder made many of the same mistakes after leaving foster care with no support system. That’s the story of many of the boys who have come through the program.

Monday, November 16, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Summit aims at reducing Pittsburgh high school drop-out rates
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh, PA – November 13, 2009
City school graduates who fall short of academic requirements for Pittsburgh Promise scholarships can get a second chance, officials announced Thursday at a summit focused on reversing drop-out rates. Starting with the Class of 2010, graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools with a grade point average between 2.0 and 2.49 can enroll for free in three courses at Community College of Allegheny County, said Saleem Ghubril, executive director of The Pittsburgh Promise, which provides $5,000 annual scholarships to city school graduates with a 2.5 grade average and higher.

Stay in school, Saginaw County ninth-graders agree at countywide summit, Saginaw, MI – November 13, 2009
About 1,400 Saginaw County high school freshmen gathered this morning at Saginaw Valley State University's Ryder Center to embrace the "stay in school" message. The Saginaw County Dropout Awareness & Prevention Summit was sponsored by the Saginaw Community Foundation. Speakers included a panel of high school dropouts who have resumed their educations, Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson Jr. and motivator Brian Pruitt, who told the teens that graduating from high school is essential to their success.

Sparking Confidence: Local Youth Apprenticeship Program Fights High Dropout Rates
The San Francisco Appeal, San Francisco, CA – November 12, 2009
High school dropout rates for America's kids are fodder for depressing thoughts. Nationwide, a full third of students do not graduate high school with a diploma, and 50% of African American and Latino students don't finish high school on time, according to dropout prevention group America's Promise Alliance. In California, "It seems 25% is the general consensus," says Chris Balme, executive director of the Bay Area's Spark, a youth apprenticeship program aiming to curb the dropout problem by teaching kids the relevance of school. "It's much higher than that in the communities that we serve." The spark for Spark came from seeing that ample learning opportunities for his students could be found in Philadelphia's business community. "There were businesses in the community, and none of those places were being used to engage students. Sometimes these are the best paces to learn." How so? "Show students what school is for by providing a hands on example," Balme explains.

Juvenile Justice

Justices debate life sentences for juveniles
CNN, Washington, DC – November 9, 2009
The Supreme Court wrestled in often emotional terms Monday over whether sentencing juvenile criminals to life in prison without parole is "cruel and unusual" punishment, especially when their crime is not murder. The justices appeared divided over how to treat two separate appeals, one involving a 13-year-old rapist and the other a 17-year-old violent home-invasion robber. "You can imagine someone who is a month short of his 18th birthday, and you are saying that, no matter what this person does -- commits the most horrible series of non-homicide offenses that you can imagine, a whole series of brutal rapes, assaults -- that person must at some point be made eligible for parole. That's your argument?" a skeptical Justice Samuel Alito asked a lawyer for one of the prisoners.

Morgan leading by example
Hartselle Enquirer, Alabama – November 11, 2009
Alabama is shifting to a more progressive, research-based approach to try and stem the flow of juvenile offenders maturing into members of the state’s adult prison population. And if Morgan County is any example, the shift is producing results. As part of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act passed by the Alabama legislature last year, counties are taking a systemic look at a child’s background, challenges and offenses and prescribing appropriate treatment.

OJJDP Administrators Gather for First Time
Youth Today, Washington, DC – November 12, 2009
Earmarks, independence and interagency politics were among the subjects discussed this week at an unprecedented gathering of former federal leaders on juvenile justice. Six of the eight former administrators of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention led OJJDP@35, a panel discussion hosted by Youth Today newspaper, speaking to an audience of advocates, foundation leaders, political staff and executives of programs that serve juvenile offenders.

Foster Care

Race factor explored in forum on foster care
The Buffalo News City & Region, Buffalo, NY – November 10, 2009
African-Americans and Hispanics account for nearly 25 percent of the children in Erie County, yet they make up more than 55 percent of those in foster care. Why are minority children so overrepresented in the country’s child welfare system, and what can be done about it? The solutions are not clear or simple, but a conference Monday in Buffalo offered strong evidence that judges, prosecutors, attorneys, caseworkers and social services officials are frustrated with a system that seems to encourage the disparities.

Governor Crist Applauds Successes of Florida’s Explore Adoption Initiative
WCTV, Tampa, FL – November 6, 2009
Governor Charlie Crist today applauded Florida’s successes in transforming state foster care while addressing child advocates, legislators and state child welfare system leaders from 18 states in Tampa. Florida was chosen as the host state for the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices policy institute, Changing the Outcome: Achieving and Sustaining a Safe Reduction in Foster Care, because of its success in safely reducing the number of children in foster care, including the Governor’s statewide Explore Adoption initiative. “In Florida, we have revolutionized our approach to foster care, and our efforts are helping more families stay together and dramatically increasing the adoption of foster children into loving families,” said Governor Crist. “Fewer children in foster care means fewer children with childhood memories filled with an ever-shifting series of foster homes and schools.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Seven Cities Launch Collaborative Efforts to Improve College Graduation Rates
Reuters, Seattle, WA – November 5, 2009
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced $4 million in grants to the National League of Cities' Institute for Youth, Education and Families, and seven cities to boost college graduation rates by better coordinating the services that colleges, schools and communities provide to students. The grants will help cities and colleges in New York, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, and California dramatically increase the number of young people who earn a degree beyond high school.

HISD chief plans to quickly cut dropout rate
Houston Chronicle, Houston, TX – November 6, 2009
A new $1 million-plus initiative could help reduce Houston's dropout rate by at least 3 percentage points before this year's senior class graduates, Superintendent Terry Grier said Thursday. As his first major initiative as Houston ISD chief, Grier is launching a credit-recovery program similar to ones he headed up in San Diego and Greensboro, N.C. Houston ISD's new program will add so-called graduation coaches to each high school.

Summit ties high school dropout rate to economy
Patagraph, Normal, IL – November 4, 2009
Bloomington High School senior Armand Ontiveros says he has never doubted that he will graduate in spring 2010. "I feel it's not an option in my mind," said Ontiveros, who wants to follow in his mother's footsteps to be among the first members of his family to graduate from college. To encourage more students to see education that way, about 500 students (including Ontiveros), educators, community leaders, parents and business people gathered Tuesday at the Illinois Dropout Prevention Summit at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center. The event was part of a nationwide effort to increase the graduation rate of students. Keynote speaker Alma Powell, chairwoman of America's Promise Alliance, stressed that helping teens graduate from high school is vital to the nation's economic future.

Juvenile Justice

ILLINOIS SPOTLIGHT: Handling of juvenile offenders questioned
Chicago Tribune, Rock Island, IL – November 5, 2009
Rock Island County likely will spend $1 million this year sending juveniles out of the area for pre-trial detention. Those resources would be better spent on the operation of a local facility, county officials agree. But there is simply not enough money to build and operate such a facility, they say. The Juvenile Justice Institute of Illinois, or JJI, contends in a recent report, however, that millions are saved and public safety is significantly improved when communities invest in locally based community alternatives for juvenile offenders, as opposed to building more detention centers.

Juvenile justice... New drug court acts as catalyst for life changes
Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Princeton, WV – November 6, 2009
Mercer County Family Court Judges Mary Ellen Griffith and Anthony Bisaha know one key to curbing adult crime rests in teaching troubled teens to be productive citizens. They, along with fellow Family Court Judge Lisa Clark, preside over Mercer County's Juvenile Drug Court, a program designed to keep youthful offenders out of detention while still pushing them away from the illegal substances that got them into legal trouble. Juvenile Drug Court, which accepts defendants ages 10-17, is built on the idea that drug-related crimes can be prevented if teens kick their drug habits while they're still young enough to plot a different future.

Foster Care

St. Joseph’s Villa summit to focus on at-risk youths
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, VA – November 3, 2009
A child who needs help all the way through school doesn't suddenly become independent just because he has graduated. A successful transition to adulthood requires some help, too. At a Youth Transition Summit tomorrow at St. Joseph's Villa in Henrico County, more than 225 professionals who work with at-risk youths will come together to hear Carmen James Lane, co-chair of the Youth Transition Funders Group.

Democrats Pose Health Bill Hurdle
The Wall Street Journal, Lafayette, LA – November 6, 2009
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu says she generally backs President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul efforts. But she'd like to see a few items in the bill before voting for it, including bigger federal Medicaid payments for her home state of Louisiana, extended health coverage for her pet cause of foster children, and help for teaching hospitals in her state. Some of her aims are more personal. Her husband, Frank Snellings, and their two children, Connor and Mary Shannon, are all adoptees, and she has made adoption and foster care a top cause. She wants to provide health coverage through age 24 for anyone who has been in foster care at least six months. "This is sort of a special issue for me," Ms. Landrieu said. Her staff said it can't calculate the provision's cost or number of people affected because some move in and out of the foster-care system and many are covered by other programs such as Medicaid.

Monday, November 02, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Durham Tech, DPS to target dropout
The Durham News, Durham, NC – October 28, 2009
Durham Technical Community College received a $300,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last week to work on a high school dropout recovery program. The college will partner with Durham Public Schools for "Gateway to College." The program gives high school dropouts a second chance to complete their high school diploma while also earning college credits.

Governor's dropout prevention commission incorporates local State Reps educational ideas
South Coast Today, New Bedford, MA – October 29, 2009
State Representatives Stephen R. Canessa (D-New Bedford) and John F. Quinn (D-Dartmouth) are encouraged by the recent release of the Massachusetts Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery Commission Report. The report outlines strategies for meeting the complex issues surrounding high school dropout rates, including raising the minimum age a student can withdraw from school from 16 years of age to 18 years, a long-time educational objective for both representatives. Working with the South Coast Education Compact, the representatives first filed legislation recognizing the contributing influence of the withdrawal age on high school dropout rates during the 2005-2006 legislative session.

Program helps dropouts graduate
The Omaha World-Herald, Omaha, NE – October 27, 2009
A phone call from someone at the Omaha Public Schools has helped about 60 students — nearly all of them former high school dropouts — try to get their education back on track. The district started a program this fall that allows district residents between the ages of 17 and 21 to return to school, on their own schedule and free of charge.

Juvenile Justice

Pennsylvania Overturns Many Youths’ Convictions
The New York Times, Pennsylvania – October 29, 2009
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday overturned thousands of juvenile-offender convictions handed down by a judge now charged in a corruption scandal. The judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, and Michael T. Conahan, a fellow judge who for a time was the chief of that court, are charged with taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from the owner of two privately run youth detention centers in exchange for their sending teenagers there.

New mental health program aimed at helping juveniles
The Courier, Mongomery County, AL – November 2, 2009
With around 40 percent of juvenile offenders in Montgomery County on some sort of psychotropic medication – such as antidepressants – officials believe a new mental health diversion program will get those young offenders the help they need.

Montgomery County’s Juvenile Probation Department, in collaboration with Tri-County Mental Health Mental Retardation, has started a program to ensure juvenile offenders with mental health issues get treatment and counseling, instead of detaining them, Director Ron Leach said.

Foster Care

After years in foster care, student plans career in social work
Columbus Local News, Columbus, OH – October 30, 2009
It's not where you start, it's where you finish, according to 19-year old Tabitha Bowen. Bowen, a sophomore at Ohio Dominican University majoring in social work, is keeping busy with her classes and her various activities on campus. She said she would like to use her degree in social work, once completed, to work as an international social worker. She is participating in the Casey Family Program, which is studying and researching what it is like to grow up in foster care, and will be attending its national conference Nov. 16-18 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Law urged to make teens stay in school
The Boston Globe, Massachusetts – October 21, 2009
Massachusetts students would be required to stay in school until age 18 under an ambitious proposal, part of a broader effort to halve the state’s high school dropout rate, to be announced today by a special state commission. With approximately 10,000 Massachusetts students quitting school each year, some as young as 14 years old, commission members say the state can no longer afford to ignore the dropout crisis, especially when striving to develop a more highly educated and skilled workforce.

Challenge Academy cadets helping Iraq vet
Chicago Tribune, Eagle, WI – October 21, 2009
Some youth enrolled in an alternative education program for high school dropouts at Fort McCoy are pitching in to help build a home for a soldier wounded in Iraq who was once in the program too. Challenge Academy offers high school dropouts and habitual truants a chance to earn their diploma and learn other life skills in a variety of ways.

N.J. at-risk youth education programs receive $6.25M
The Star-Ledger, New Jersey – October 21, 2009
With millions of dollars in state and federal grants already going to bullet-proof vests and surveillance cameras, Attorney General Anne Milgram today announced $6.25 million for another major crime prevention initiative: education. The grant will be split among YouthBuild programs across the state. "We are providing the resources necessary to help young people who are living at risk," Milgram said. "The alternative is to not support these efforts and pay for the costs associated with prison, emergency health care, public assistance, and much more."

Juvenile Justice

Restorative justice fans tout program advantages
Woodbury Bulletin, Woodbury, MN – October 21, 2009
Proponents of juvenile restorative justice programs say youths are less likely to commit offenses after successfully completing a peer court program. East Ridge High School police liaison Jean Hancock, who is coordinating a youth court program at the school, said it will take a few years to judge the new program’s outcomes.

Smaller JDC reflects larger goal for juvenile justice
Star-Tribune, Natrona County, WY – October 25, 2009
The next time Natrona County commissioners meet with their architect, they'll discuss designs for a juvenile detention center considerably smaller than the one they originally had in mind. They aren't expecting the county to shrink. Instead, the new plans are tied to a statewide effort rethinking how Wyoming houses young offenders, officials say. Rather than relying on large detention centers in Casper and Cheyenne, state leaders hope to create a network of smaller, regional facilities and dormitory-style operations that reduce the need to transport juveniles long distances. They also want to encourage more alternative programs that keep kids in their communities instead of locking them up.

Foster Care

Campus housing for foster youth bill signed
The State Hornet, California - October 24, 2009
Legislation that requires California's public post-secondary education systems to give priority for on-campus housing to emancipated foster youths was recently signed into law. AB 1393, the Foster Youth Priority Housing in College bill, also requires California State University campuses to keep housing facilities open for foster youths during school breaks. The bill was authored by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Oct. 11.

Georgia joins national foster care campaign
PBA Online, Atlanta, GA – October 24, 2009
While certain foster care homes in Georgia face sanctions, the state hopes a new effort will reduce the number of kids forced to grow up under state custody. The Georgia Department of Human Services is working with the Casey Family Foundation. The Foundation's Raise Me Up campaign highlights problems foster children face.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Texas board seeks to close gap in Latinos attending college
The Dallas Morning News, Dallas TX – October 18, 2009
State higher education officials are developing a plan to address the lagging college attendance of Latinos and to close the gap within that group – where men are behind. According to a report by Victor Saenz, an assistant professor of education administration at the University of Texas, "sacrificing the individual over the needs of the family is commonplace" among Hispanic males. Other challenges, he notes, are a greater likelihood of being labeled at-risk or placed in special education and higher high school dropout rates.

Free Pass for Drop-Outs
NBC Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA – October 19, 2009
Monday is the first-ever Student Recovery Day in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The LAUSD wants drop-outs to come back to school and is willing to go door-to-door to find them. Starting around 8:00 this morning teams of LAUSD administrators, including superintendent Ramon Cortines, will scour the streets and neighborhoods of Los Angeles in an attempt to recover as many students as possible who are no longer enrolled in LAUSD schools. The recovery teams will also be tracking down the students by phone.

BISD reaching out to dropouts
The Brownsville Herald, Brownsville, TX – October 14, 2009
Recent BISD high school dropouts can expect a visit from people hoping to convince them to go back to school. A week from Saturday parents, teachers, school administrators and community volunteers will walk the neighborhoods of Brownsville looking for students who did not return to school this year. They’ll talk to them and their parents about the variety of paths open to return to school and graduate — and even continue their education beyond high school.

Juvenile Justice

Deal reached to help juveniles in trouble with the law in Ogle Co.
WREX 13, Oregon, IL – October 13, 2009
Juveniles running into trouble with the law in Ogle County are finding law enforcement and probation officers coming to their assistance. Members of the Ogle County Juvenile Justice Council announced 8/18/09 that they have signed an agreement that ensures juvenile offenders will undergo a professional assessment at an early stage of their contact with the justice system, which will offer the youth a chance to get needed services as quickly as possible.

Escaping the prison trap
UCLA Newsroom, Washington, DC – October 13, 2009
UCLA brought together top researchers in the criminal justice field, congressional staff, a high-ranking official in the Obama administration and a California congressman for its first Rosenfield Forum in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 8. "Escaping the Prison Trap" sought to address some of the major issues confronting the U.S. justice system today, including the country's unprecedented incarceration rate; the role of communities in reducing crime, especially among juveniles; and the development of innovative programs for deterring crime and reducing prison crowding.

Foster Care

FLITE Center Helps Foster Kids Take Flight
CBS 4, Fort Lauderdale, FL – October 14, 2009
Every year, 120 foster kids in Broward County must leave their foster homes because they've turned 18. While they may be considered legal adults, many of them haven't fully developed the life skills they'll need to function successfully in the adult world. Now, those young adults aging out of the foster care system in Broward have a new place to hang out – the FLITE Center, which stands for the Fort Lauderdale Independence Training & Education Center.

Businesses improve foster kids’ chances to succeed in life
Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas, NV – October 16, 2009
It’s heartbreaking to think about children who have had a rough, unstable start in life, like many raised in foster care and entering a world when they are not ready. Some Las Vegas businesses are trying to help prepare these children for adulthood after their access to social services — the rock in their unstable world — dwindles and they are left to fend for themselves. These businesses are using their skills to help foster children who are aging out of the system and entering a world when they may not be ready.

Youth Villages eases transition from foster care
Greensboro News Record, Greensboro, NC – October 19, 2009
Brittany Emerson dropped out of Andrews High School during her senior year when she became pregnant. “When I had my son, I wanted to be focused on him,” she said. Now she’s ready to focus on herself, thanks in part to New Day, a transitional living program through the nonprofit Youth Villages. The program works with young people who have aged out of the foster-care system to help them learn to live on their own.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Youth in Transition: This Week's News


Administration Launches $650M Program to Boost Education
The Washington Post, Washington, DC – October 6, 2009
The Obama administration on Tuesday announced goals for a $650 million grant competition for school systems and nonprofit organizations with ideas for narrowing achievement gaps, reducing high school dropout rates and improving teacher and principal effectiveness.

New Jersey After 3 Featured as a Vital Solution at the New Jersey High School Graduation Campaign Summit
Reuters, Brunswick, NJ – October 6, 2009
New Jersey After 3 was featured among the best practices outlined at today's New Jersey High School Graduation Campaign Summit, held at the Hyatt Hotel in New Brunswick, NJ. The statewide network of afterschool programs committed to expanding learning time for thousands of New Jersey's youth was positioned as a critical support in driving student achievement, and keeping kids safe and positively engaged in respective schools and communities. Today's summit was the culmination of a year long effort by the various public and private stakeholders in support of the national America's Promise Campaign to prevent students from dropping out of school.

Web classes help Wichita school district dissuade dropouts
The Wichita Eagle, Wichita, KS – October 5, 2009
One-third of the Wichita school district's record enrollment growth this year came from students who may never set foot in a traditional school. Of the 900 additional students in the district of about 50,000, roughly 90 came from the Internet-based eSchool and 200 from the district's four Learning Centers, which offer computer-based courses to high school dropouts. "A big part of it is students who would have left previously, we're keeping," said Robin Surland, who leads the eSchool and Learning Centers. She said the district is keeping more students because of a new dropout policy that requires counseling and better promotion of both programs.

Juvenile Justice

Alaska youths with no place to turn offered a Step Up
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Anchorage, AK – October 6, 2009
He spent years wandering in and out of class, doing time in juvenile jail, hanging with the wrong crowd and eventually getting kicked out of school for good. But he didn't get the message until the night someone shot his best friend dead at a party. That's when everything changed for 16-year-old Sean Stallard. In a moment of clarity, he enrolled in Step Up - the last chance of last chance high schools. Step Up is for teens who have run out all their options and have nowhere else to go - the students who were bad enough to be kicked out of school, either through long-term suspensions or expulsions - but who stopped just short of doing something that landed them in jail.

Justice Department Announces Grants Under Second Chance Act Prisoner Reentry Initiative
Reuters, Washington, DC – October 6, 2009
The U.S. Department of Justice today announced more than $28 million in grant funding to states, local governments and non-profit organizations under the Second Chance Act Prisoner Reentry Initiative. Funding, awarded through five separate grant programs, will be used to support reentry programs that assist individuals' transition from prison back into the community through a variety of services such as mentoring, literacy classes, job training, education programs, substance abuse, rehabilitation and mental health programs for adult and juvenile offenders.

Juvenile justice expert says judge children as children
Central NY Real-Times News, Syracuse, NY – October 6, 2009
Treating children as adults in the court system is a bad policy that is ruining youngsters’ lives and exacting a heavy economic toll on society, according to juvenile justice expert Michael A. Corriero. Corriero, who served as a state Supreme Court judge for 28 years and now runs Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, was in Syracuse today to speak at the Salvation Army’s annual civic celebration luncheon in the Oncenter. More than 500 people attended the event. “You can’t try kids as adults because they are not,” Corriero said in an interview before the luncheon. “Locking kids up, which may appear to be expedient, is not the answer.”

Foster Care

Casey Family Programs, Consortium Announce New Resource For Implementing Fostering Connections Act
Reuters, Seattle, WA – October 7, 2009
Casey Family Programs celebrates the first anniversary of landmark child welfare legislation with the announcement of a new center that empowers local decision-makers with the knowledge they need to move children from foster care to safe and permanent homes. The Fostering Connections Resource Center has been created by a consortium of foundations to provide timely and reliable tools and information on all aspects of the federal law, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.

Teenager Excels Despite Family Challenges, Foster Care
WUWM, Milwaukee, WI – October 6, 2009
We often hear about the challenges of being a foster kid in Milwaukee. First, you’re taken away from your parents because things aren’t going well at home. You’re placed in a new home – perhaps several different ones – and when you turn 18, you may find yourself on your own without much support. That means college is out of reach for many teenagers aging out of foster care. But WUWM’s Erin Toner found one young woman who is going on to higher education through hard work in school and help from caring people along the way. Jessica Holden has a story that doesn’t seem like it would end with, “and off she goes to college.” This is the way her story starts, at 10 years old.

Foster youth bill can make contrasts not quite so sharp
Capitol Weekly, California – October 8, 2009
Much of what we learn in early childhood comes through contrasts. I taught my kids about opposites by reading books like "Go, Dog. Go!" with its entertaining juxtapositions of "red dog on top" and "yellow dog underneath." Some contrasts, of course, are not so fun. Think of the foster care system. Although much has been done to improve it, life in foster care remains a stark contrast to life in a stable home. There is perhaps nowhere in the entire foster child experience where the contrast is greater than the 18th birthday. For other kids, it's a celebration and new-found freedom. For the foster kid, it is the moment they "age out of the system."

Monday, October 05, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


L.A. volunteers aim to prevent local high school dropouts
Daily News, Los Angeles, CA – September 30, 2009
Los Angeles City Year kicked off its third annual volunteer project on Wednesday, with a new goal of working to prevent high school dropouts. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa administered the organization's oath to the 150 volunteers, ages 17 to 24, during a ceremony on the steps of City Hall. "When you think about democracy, when you think about the fact that so few people are voting, that they feel cynical and don't think they can make a difference, you are showing that democracy can work," Villaraigosa said. Dressed in red and yellow jackets, the teams of young adults began the day with mild physical training and enthusiastic responses from their team leaders.

Corps work creates routine for high school dropouts

San Diego News Network, San Diego, CA – September 29, 2009
The four-man crew — quiet, adjusting to the waking world — assembles at dawn. It will be a hot day. They will work in City Heights sweeping streets, replacing trash can liners, trimming trees, and painting over graffiti. Routine is important, says Luis Cruz, a 50-something supervisor for the City Heights group. A daily agenda is what the corps members need: a path and a goal; discipline and consequence and reward. The Urban Corps is a 20-year-old nonprofit that gives paid work experience opportunities to high school dropouts and immigrant students who have little or no job training.

County schools combat high dropout rate
The Sun, San Bernardino, CA – October 4, 2009
The county superintendent of schools, along with other education and community leaders, is stepping up efforts to bring down the high number of high school dropouts in the county. The effort known as "A Call to Action: Fighting the Drop Out Rate" will determine why there are so many dropouts in the San Bernardino area and focus on creating effective outreach programs to combat the problem. "We need to take action because dropouts are more likely to engage in illegal activities which create safety risks for our communities," said County Superintendent of Schools Gary Thomas. "And the students who fail to finish school are less likely to find productive work that would allow them to sustain themselves.

Juvenile Justice

Filmmakers focus on juvenile justice reform
Casper Star Tribune, Cheyenne, WY – October 3, 2009
They've stirred controversy in Cheyenne for filming inside a juvenile detention center. In Rawlins, government officials wouldn't speak with them. Marc Homer and Chris Hume have only been working on their documentary for two months, but already, they've got some people concerned. Raising questions about the state's juvenile justice system will do that. The filmmakers are producing a feature-length documentary focused on how Wyoming deals with its young offenders. Both men believe the system is badly in need of reform and they are determined to create a movie that addresses the situation.

Federal Boost to Vt. Programs for At-Risk Youth
WCAX, Burlington, VT – September 29, 2009
Four Vermont organizations are sharing $523,000 in federal funds to help at-risk youth. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, worked to secure the money for job training and other anti-delinquency programs. Sanders calls the funds an investment in our future, to help keep young people on the right path. "I was forced to drop out of school because I got sent away. The schooling replacements were horrible. Through Youth Build, I'm earning my high school diploma and gaining skills to help me out," said James Porter, a participant in ReSource Youth Build.

Douglas County Juvenile Department gets $1.8M grant
The News-Review, Douglas County, OR – October 2, 2009
A new report confirms the experience of veteran juvenile officers and provides the information needed to insure juvenile programs actually keep kids from pursuing a life of crime. Deputy State Courts Administrator Gary Waint says this report is important to the state juvenile justice system and its Family Courts. "This is benchmark work that will begin to allow us now to trend how we're performing as a juvenile justice system," Waint says, "and inform the public about of it as well."

Foster Care

Helping out the helpers
The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD – October 4, 2009
The group of teens and twentysomethings had no problem summoning an audience for a presentation on community building recently at a West Baltimore youth center. After all, instead of offering suggestions, they're offering money. Big money. To young people just like themselves. At a time when grant givers across the country are tightening their fists amid the recession, the Baltimore-based nonprofit group Youth As Resources (YAR) is helping others their age turn ideas into initiatives with up to $3,500 in funding per project. YAR is funded by such organizations as the Baltimore Community Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Its average grant is about $2,000. Programs YAR has funded includes Foster Youth Incorporated, a group of teens in the foster care system who seek to change policy and practices in the system to ensure that all foster youth have positive foster and youth-home environments.

Lake Forest home saves teen lives
OC Register, Lake Forest, CA – September 29, 2009
For years since Chelsea Roberts was taken from her home because of abuse, she has wanted a place to call her own. Now – four years later after being placed in Orangewood Children's Home, a temporary foster home and at a group home in Mission Viejo – Roberts, 18, will be one of five young women living in a newly renovated six-bedroom home in a Lake Forest neighborhood. The house is TheTeen Project's first home for emancipated foster youth in Orange County. The project is a collaborative effort between The Teen Project, a program that provides housing and college education to homeless foster youth, and HomeAid Orange County, – a non-profit that builds and maintains housing for people rebuilding their lives.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Walk's goal: Get Des Moines dropouts back in class
Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA – September 25, 2009
More than 100 high school dropouts have re-enrolled in the Des Moines district this fall, thanks to a new outreach initiative. District officials hope a community walk Saturday will bring back hundreds more who have dropped out in the past two years. "Even if we get one or two students back because of this, that's a success," said Bryce Amos, a Des Moines schools executive director. Des Moines continues to have a difficult time keeping students in school.

Washington Co. school dropout rate declines
The Herald-Mail, Washington County, MD – September 26, 2009
The dropout rate in Washington County Public Schools has declined steadily over the last decade. In 2000, 5.55 percent, or 339 seniors, dropped out of high school, according to statistics provided by the school system. That number fell to 110, or 1.56 percent, during the 2008-09 academic year. Carol Costello, the school system’s supervisor of alternative programs and student services, said intervention specialists at the middle- and high-school levels were responsible for a lot of the success.

New CCSF/SFUSD Partnership to Focus on Recovery of High School Dropouts
Mission Dispatch, San Francisco, CA – September 25, 2009
Gateway to College National Network announced Aug. 28 the launching of the Gateway to College program at City College of San Francisco. The first Gateway to College students started classes on Aug. 17 at the College’s Southeast Campus. City College received a $300,000 start-up grant from the Gateway to College National Network to create a unique San Francisco collaborative to provide greater service for high school dropouts. The City College program currently serves 50 students, and is expected to serve up to 300 through its first three years of operation.

Juvenile Justice

Big Brothers Big Sisters wins grant to mentor ex-youth offenders
San Antonio Business Journal, San Antonio, TX – September 25, 2009
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention will award Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas $625,000 in grant funding over the next three years to provide mentoring services to juvenile offenders being released from Texas Youth Commission facilities. The money will support Big Brothers Big Sisters’ “Second Chance Mentoring Project.”

Raise the age legislation offers hope for troubled youth
Hartford Public Schools Examiner, Hardford, CT – September 27, 2009
One bad move—destruction of property, a pocket full of marijuana, or a school fight could steal a youth’s future. Connecticut is only one of three states to try 16-year olds as adults. According to the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance statistics 95% of our youth are arrested for nonviolent, minor offenses. If convicted, they will serve time in an adult prison. One wrong decision could put a troubled 16-year old behind bars, tried in an adult court. Raise the Age reform worked to pass legislation in 2007 that will take effect January 1st, 2010 and place the 16-year old in the juvenile jurisdiction.

Benchmark report will guide juvenile system, Family Courts
Missourinet, Missouri – September 23, 2009
A new report confirms the experience of veteran juvenile officers and provides the information needed to insure juvenile programs actually keep kids from pursuing a life of crime. Deputy State Courts Administrator Gary Waint says this report is important to the state juvenile justice system and its Family Courts. "This is benchmark work that will begin to allow us now to trend how we're performing as a juvenile justice system," Waint says, "and inform the public about of it as well."

Supreme Court to consider juvenile 'lifers'
Chicago Tribune, Washington, DC – September 28, 2009
Joe Sullivan was 13 years old when he and two older boys broke into a home, where they robbed and raped an elderly woman. After a one-day trial in 1989, Sullivan was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole. Terrance Graham was 16 when he and two others robbed a restaurant. When he was arrested again a year later for a home break-in, a Florida judge said he was incorrigible. In 2005, Graham received a life term with no parole. According to Amnesty International, "The United States is the only country in the world that does not comply with the norm against imposing life-without-parole sentences on juveniles."

Foster Care

Foster kids get a hand setting out on their own
Pensacola News Journal, Pensacola, FL – September 28, 2009
Alycia McKnight grew out of the foster care program at midnight on Jan. 10. Four days later, she launched into a world as an independent adult. It's a scary step for any 18-year-old but especially frightening for McKnight, who has no support from her biological parents. She began her new life with the help of several years of training from Lakeview's FamiliesFirst Network Road to Independent Living program and $650 to buy essentials to set up her first apartment. She stretched the money shopping at thrift stores.

Stimulus funds to help older foster children
Lebanon Daily News, Lebanon County, PA – September 21, 2009
Lebanon County will receive $190,000 in economic-stimulus money to help older foster children make the transition to independent living. The money will go to the county's Community Action Partnership, which provides human-services programs through the state Department of Public Welfare. Phyllis Holtry, director of CAP, said the money will be used to help 18-year-olds who are "aging out" of foster care learn to live independently and provide for themselves.

Monday, September 21, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Modesto volunteers push staying in school
The Modesto Bee, Modesto, CA – September 20, 2009
More than 125 volunteers took to the streets of south and west Modesto on Saturday morning in the city's first education walk. Splitting up into small groups, volunteers knocked on several hundred doors. Organizers hoped the person-to-person Diploma in Every Hand Walk would motivate youth to stay in school and graduate high school.

School Drop-outs Get Home Visits, College Station, TX – September 17, 2009
Community volunteers spoke with 50 students and their parents during the second "Stay In School Blitz". Since 2007, Bryan and College Station and Texas A&M employees, have teamed up with Bryan Independent School District employees. Some of the volunteers are part of the Bryan/College Station Family Solutions, which is the organization that jump started the blitz in October 2007. Thursday volunteers loaded buses and visited several Bryan neighborhoods to encourage middle and high school drop-outs not to give up on their education. Students who decide to go back to school attend Flexible High School in Bryan. For many students going back to school is a life-changing experience.

A solution to a tough problem
The Sun Chronicle, Attleboro, MA – September 21, 2009
Kerry Chemelowski never attended a regular high school, but the city resident can now call himself a graduate. Thanks to a federal grant, area school dropouts have a new option to help them get the equivalent of a high school diploma and a foot in the door for a job or college.

Juvenile Justice

Why Reforming the Juvenile-Justice System Is So Hard
Time, New York, NY – September 16, 2009
Among the kids, it was known as Rug Burn City, a reference to the injuries they sustained when guards at the Gossett juvenile prison in upstate New York routinely pinned young offenders face down on the carpeted floor. The restraints were supposed to be an infrequent last resort, but according to a damning recent Justice Department report, they ended up being used regularly as part of a culture of intimidation and control, sometimes for the slightest infractions, such as speaking out of turn, slamming doors and not properly making a bed. It may not be easy, but reform advocates like Gladys Carrion, who took over as commissioner of the state's nearly $4 billion Office of Children and Family Services at the start of 2007, think they know what the broader solution is: changing the culture of a juvenile-justice system that currently uses a correctional model — detaining youth in facilities with varying degrees of security up to prison-like settings — to one more focused on treating the traumas at the root of their bad behavior.

Rick Braziel: The time to act is before the dropout gets arrested
The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, CA – September 21, 2009
Classrooms around Sacramento are coming back to life as the summer winds down and a new school year begins. As parents, we all have big goals for our children, and a good education is the foundation needed to realize many of those dreams. Beyond the fiscal impact, studies have shown that increasing graduation rates by 10 percentage points would prevent 22 homicides and more than 1,100 aggravated assaults in Sacramento County each year. The importance of a high school education cannot be overstated. Fortunately, a lot can be done to bring dropout rates down. First, kids who start school ready to learn are much less likely to fall behind and off track.

Choice bus teaches importance of staying in school
Rockingham News, Rockingham County, VA – September 21, 2009
Monique is 19 years old. Her home consists of a hard, cold cot and a toilet/sink combo. She’s told when she can sleep and when she can eat, and last week, local middle and high school students had the opportunity to briefly step inside her world. Monique is a real-life prisoner whose story is featured in the Choice Bus program, a reality check program that gives students an inside look at the consequences they could face if they quit school.

Foster Care

Reinventing the McMansion
Time - September 28, 2009
What do we do with our McMansions now? The housing market may be showing signs of life, but it's mostly limited to modest homes. The 4,000-, 5,000- and 6,000-square-footers — the ones that dot the landscape of countless American suburbs, replete with vaulted foyers and Palladian windows — are still finding precious few takers. But maybe that's O.K., because the Great McMansion Repurposing has begun. In Idaho, the nonprofit Housing Company is looking for a 4,000- or 5,000-sq.-ft. house to turn into a home for kids aging out of foster care.

Monday, September 14, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Area effort aims to halt drift into dropout ranks
The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, MO - September 11, 2009
When people gather this month to contemplate the area toll from so many high school dropouts, they are going to meet Vanessa Camacho. The 20-year-old embodies so many of the complexities that make understanding and numbering dropouts a vexing problem. Camacho was drifting away from school long before anyone counted her as lost. And, like many dropouts, she is just one step away from pulling herself out of their ranks. In a series of public forums, Kansas City’s Youth Advocacy Office is using grant funding from the national America’s Promise Alliance to build toward an area summit on dropout prevention.

Polk Program Gives Drop-Outs Another Try for Diploma
The Ledger, Lakeland, FL - September 13, 2009
A new program by the Polk County School District is working to get high school dropouts to drop back in. The Drop Back In Academies, owned and operated by the private company Alternatives Unlimited Inc., give students who have dropped out or are at-risk of dropping out of traditional schools a chance to still earn their high school diploma.

School officials drop in on dropouts
El Paso Times, El Paso, TX – September 13, 2009
Denise Reyes was stunned speechless when Operation Outreach came calling Saturday morning. Her mother was caught off guard and in her pajamas. Reyes, 17, was a little overwhelmed when the mayor, the school district superintendent, some district employees, five television cameramen and four reporters showed up on her doorstep. She was one of 80 school dropouts who were targeted Saturday by Operation Outreach, an effort to get young people back into the classroom to finish their high-school educations.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile justice department project in Anderson about 'more than a bench'
Independent Mail, Anderson, SC – September 12, 2009
Brittany Allewine was 5 when her father was killed. “He was electrocuted when a machine he was working on touched an overhead power line,” said Allewine, now 16, on Saturday. “So, I guess I know a little bit about what hard times are. Losing my Daddy was hard.” Allewine was one of about 20 young people who participated Saturday in a service project of the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice office in Anderson County. The project included the building and placing of two benches at bus stops in Anderson County and the coordination of a clothes closet for those in need of free clothes.

DJJ puts youngsters to work
The Index-Journal, Greenwood, SC – September 13, 2009
There are lessons to be learned through volunteerism and giving back to the community. It’s a lesson young people across the state learned on Saturday, as the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice put on a statewide service project called "Restoring Carolina Through Youth Service.” In Greenwood, youth participated in a food drive at the Food Lion on South Main Street, collecting canned goods and other food items, which will be donated to the Food Bank.

Forum to focus on at-risk girls
The Republican, Springfield, MA – September 8, 2009
Educators, social workers, service providers and anyone who interacts with at-risk girls are invited to the fifth annual "Through Her Eyes: The Experience of Girls and the Juvenile Justice System" conference. The event, with a theme this year of "Empowering Girls Through Social Change," focuses on how to best meet the needs of female juvenile offenders in Western Massachusetts. It's scheduled to take place Oct. 8 at the MassMutual Center.

Foster Care

'Uncle Roger's' tutoring program improves foster children's skills
DesMoines Register, Des Moines, IA – September 12, 2009
Elisha Hobbs graduated from a Des Moines high school with a 3.5 grade-point average. But her reading skills were at a fifth-grade level and her math skills were even lower, according to tests by a private tutor. The holes in Hobbs' education were discovered by a Des Moines activist who is investing thousands of dollars of his own money to pay for professional tutoring in reading, writing and math so foster teens like Hobbs can go to college if they choose.

Lawyers sought to help Southwest Florida children
News-Press, Florida – September 11, 2009
In Florida courts for abused and neglected children, attorneys represent the Department of Children and Families, the Guardian ad Litem, and parents, but rarely is one there just for the child. Judge James Seals, who presides over Lee County’s dependency court, and Alicia Guerra, supervising attorney for the local guardian program, which provides court advocates for children, are trying to recruit pro-bono lawyers for children with complex legal issues and teenagers aging out of foster care. “There are certain times where children do need to have a lawyer, and no one’s available,” Seals said. “The state does not provide lawyers for children like they do for parents.”

DSS worker excels to help others in foster care
The Sun News, Chester, SC – September 8, 2009
Kiki Hopkins doesn't just tell kids and young parents at Chester County's Department of Social Services what can be done to succeed. She lived it herself. Long before Ki'Juana "Kiki" Madry Hopkins worked at DSS helping kids as a child protection case worker, she was one of the children in DSS foster care. When her name was Kiki Madry, and she was a seventh-grader in the 1980s, her mother went to jail after drug problems. Kiki, youngest of three kids, and her older sister lived in foster homes and group homes. Now, Kiki is a college graduate working on her master's degree. She helps kids in the same office where she once was a name in a case file in the community of Chester.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Communities in Schools battles dropout epidemic
Houston Chronicle, Houston, TX – September 2, 2009
Back to school — three words that conjure memories of anxious moments about a new teacher, football games, crowded lunch rooms and hallways crowded with jostling students. At Communities In Schools Houston (CIS), back to school has a much deeper meaning. Placed on school campuses throughout Houston, dedicated CIS staff and volunteers work with children at the greatest risk of dropping out of school in order to remove obstacles to learning. Some kids face daunting challenges such as having an incarcerated parent or teen pregnancies, while other kids might just need a little extra support in school or a positive adult role model.

Taco Bell Raises $1.8 Million to Fund Teen Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs
Reuters, Irvine, CA – September 2, 2009
Taco Bell raised $1.8 million in a one-day nationwide fundraiser held in April to benefit Taco Bell Foundation for Teens and their key partner and beneficiary, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. More than 2 million customers visited Taco Bell restaurants on April 23rd to participate in the fundraiser. Franchisees and company-owned restaurants pledged 15 percent of the day's gross sales to help further the Foundation's mission of raising awareness for the graduation crisis, and supporting programs at Boys & Girls Clubs designed to help at-risk teens. The money pledged from the fundraiser will help enhance and expand the national Keystone initiative, the largest and most dynamic teen program within Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Keystone Clubs help young people ages 14-18 become productive citizens and leaders by focusing on three key areas: Academic Success, Career Exploration and Community Service. Since 1995, Taco Bell Foundation for Teens estimates its programs have helped more than 500,000 teens stay in school and on the path to graduation.

Juvenile Justice

Justice Department Announces $129 Million in Awards to Support Youth Mentoring
Reuters, Washington, DC – September 2, 2009
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today announced more than $129 million in Recovery Act and Fiscal Year 2009 funds have been awarded for mentoring services to help prevent at-risk youth from becoming involved in delinquency. The grants will also preserve and create jobs throughout the United States. "The Recovery Act has allowed us to invest further in the future of today's youth by providing mentoring opportunities to help children reach their full potential," said Attorney General Holder. "These grants will help steer young people away from criminal activities by providing them with healthy life alternatives, positive role models and direct contact with caring adults."

Kids, Courts and Schools Conference looks at ways to help at-risk youth
Mt. Vernon Register-News, Mt. Vernon, IL – September 3, 2009
As cuts in funding may have reduced the money for programs that help at-risk youth, what didn’t get reduced are the number of youth that need intervention and the programs. The 16th Annual Kids, Courts and Schools Conference will target ways to prevent juvenile delinquency and ways to help troubled teens become responsible adults. The conference will be held Oct. 1 at Rend Lake Resort & Conference Center at the Wayne Fitzgerald Park in Whittington.

"Step Up" Program Helps Students Get Back On Track
ABC Alaska News, Anchorage, AK – September 4, 2009
Known for its high drop out rates, the City of Anchorage has developed a program aimed at keeping students in school, as well as on track. This year, ASD has teamed up with Juvenile Justice and the city to develop the program called “Step Up”. Instead of going to a correctional facility or continuation program, “Step Up” gives students another chance to stay motivated towards school and earn credits, eventually working there way back into the Anchorage School District.

Foster Care

From DSS custody to DSS worker, this Chester lady comes full circle
Herald Online, Chester, SC – September 6, 2009
Kiki Hopkins doesn't just tell kids and young parents at Chester County's Department of Social Services what can be done to succeed. She lived it herself. Long before Ki'Juana “Kiki” Madry Hopkins worked at DSS helping kids as a child protection case worker, she was one of the children in DSS foster care. When her name was Kiki Madry, and she was a seventh-grader in the 1980s, her mother went to jail after drug problems. Kiki, youngest of three kids, and her older sister lived in foster homes and group homes. Now, Kiki is a college graduate working on her master's degree.

Mentors help foster children
Herald Tribune, Sarasota, FL – September 3, 2009
The always-expanding Next Step program has helped teenagers like Mercades Kennedy, 18, enter adulthood with its mentoring and tutoring services. "It was wonderful," Kennedy says of the experience transitioning out of foster care. "I couldn't wait to get my own place and not have people over me trying to make decisions." Mentor groups consist of mental health, legal, financial, education or business professionals who are available as a support system for two years.