Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Education

Cleveland Summit Seeks Solution to Dropout Problem
90.3 FM WCPN, Cleveland, OH – May 21, 2009
Retired Army General Colin Powell has called America's high school dropout rate "a national catastrophe." He helped formed a group called America's Promise to stimulate action, and it is holding "dropout prevention summits" in areas with the worst rates. That includes Cleveland which has the third lowest graduation rate in the nation among large cities.

High-tech sleuth helps reduce truancy
The Houston Chronicle, New Caney, TX – May 25, 2009
Seventeen-year-old Clarissa Curry, a New Caney High School student, is a repeat-offender truant which, in Judge James Metts’ court, likely would have landed her in jail. But the judge found a high-tech alternative. Instead of spending a three-day weekend in the Montgomery County Jail, Curry must spend six weeks carrying around a handheld device the size of a cell phone that tracks her every move.

New law may help reduce dropouts, says schools chief
The Huntsville Times, Huntsville, AL – May 21, 2009
Local school leaders hope a new law reduces the number of high school dropouts. Ann Roy Moore, superintendent of Huntsville schools, praised a state law signed Monday that increases to 17 the age when students may quit school. By keeping potential dropouts a year longer, Moore said those students might decide to stay in school to graduate. "They need as much education as they can get," Moore said of all students.

Juvenile Justice

Advocates seek juvenile justice reform
Star-Gazette, Albany, NY – May 25, 2009
Advocates for improving juvenile justice in New York claimed last week that the state is not fully complying with a federal law that requires it to address the disproportionate number of minority youths in the system. The Children's Defense Fund of New York, the Legal Aid Society and other organizations said that to help turn that around, state and local agencies need to do a better job of reporting information on the racial and ethnic makeup of children who are arrested, placed in detention or incarcerated.

Site Launched to Support Youth Sentencing Reform Bill
California Chronicle, Sacramento, CA – May 23, 2009
Supporters of SB 399, the Fair Sentences for Youth Act, have a launched a new website – www.fairsentencingforyouth.com – to advocate for passage of the legislation. SB 399, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), would allow courts to review cases of juveniles sentenced to life without parole after 10 years, potentially allowing some individuals to receive a new sentence of 25 years to life. The new website includes extensive background information on the issue, including the stories of inmates and victims´ families, data on brain maturation, and an easy avenue for individuals to support SB 399 and lobby legislators. SB 399 is currently being considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Ex-convict celebrates college graduation, a new life
Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD – May 21, 2009
R. Dwayne Betts seemed headed for a bleak future. Twelve years ago, the promising high school junior from Suitland and a friend carjacked a man at gunpoint in Northern Virginia. Betts, who had figured he would be the first in his family to go to college, went to prison instead, sentenced at age 16 to nine years behind bars. This evening, Betts will pick up his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Maryland, College Park and address his fellow graduates. It's just the latest milestone in a phoenix-like recovery from the mistakes of his youth. He's already deep into graduate study at an elite North Carolina college, and his prison memoir, A Question of Freedom, is to be published in August, with a book of poetry, Shahid Learns to Pray, to follow next year.

Foster Care

“Virtual Parent” Debuts to Help Ohio Youth Transition to Adulthood
Public News Service, Coumbus, OH – May 20, 2009
Ohio teens have a new "virtual parent:" a website that debuts today. It will provide information to youth preparing to "age out" of foster care, helping them make the transition to adult independence. More than 1,300 Ohioans leave foster care each year. Brandi Scales with the Public Children Services Association of Ohio says many of these youth have been in state care for several years and have no safety net to help them deal with the challenges of adulthood.

Ethel's Tree of Life seeks fed funds to help at-risk youths get summer jobs
Foster’s Daily Democrat, Portsmouth, NH – May 22, 2009
A Kittery-based nonprofit organization has applied for federal stimulus funds aimed at helping at-risk youths get jobs for the summer. Organizers behind Ethel's Tree of Life are seeking upward of $81,000 to embark on a program that would provide employment to 30 youths in the Seacoast region of New Hampshire and southern York County in Maine. Ethel's Tree of Life Executive Director Linda Higgins said the organization is aiming to start a "community based work site" for youths to receive a real-life introduction into what it means to be a productive member of the workforce.

Monday, May 18, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Education

Online hope for high school dropouts
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Makati City, Philippines – May 17, 2009
In an alternative learning setup that seeks to maximize new information and communication technologies (ICTs), students no longer need to bring lots of pens and papers when taking quizzes. In fact, they do not even have to go to class five times a week to finish high school. Participants of eSkwela just sit in front of a computer for about three hours a week. They learn according to their need and speed.

Missouri to get dropout prevention programs
Kansas City Star, Jefferson City, MO – May 14, 2009
Missouri students would have to stay in school longer or complete a minimum number of credits before they can drop out under legislation sent to Gov. Jay Nixon. Missouri's current law lets students quit school when they turn 16. A bill given final approval by the House and Senate on Thursday would let students drop out when they turn 17 or complete at least 16 credits.

Meaningful reform begins with lowering dropout rates
The Arizona Republic, Pheonix, AZ – May 18, 2009
While the nearly $1 billion Arizona received under the first round of federal stimulus funding for education has immediate benefits in terms of job retention, the depth of its impact should be measured by student outcomes. As decisions are made about how these funds are spent, there can be no argument about the urgent need to fund programs that support those students most likely to drop out of high school - students of color and Native American students.

Juvenile Justice

Help for juveniles in Tippecanoe County
18 WLFI, Lafayette, IN – May 15, 2009
A Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center could be created in Tippecanoe County. After plans for the Juvenile Justice Center were put on hold, County leaders hope to move forward with some parts of what was originally proposed. Sheriff Tracy Brown says right now Juveniles who are arrested can be held up to 6 hours in a holding room at the jail. Brown said with an intake and assessment center, youth would receive immediate attention. "You have intervention immediately into a situation, you have parents involved, you have the youthful offender involved, you have probation all at one location," said Brown.

Cambiar brings needed change
CNJOnline.com, Las Cruces, NM – May 13, 2009
There is a quiet revolution in juvenile justice in New Mexico occurring in the southern part of our state. With assistance from former officials of Missouri’s nationally recognized juvenile correctional system, the J. Paul Taylor Center outside of Las Cruces is being transformed. The changes in this facility are the first in a statewide movement to create safe, effective juvenile correctional programs in which young people committed to state custody have every opportunity to become contributing, healthy, law-abiding citizens.

Foster Care

Jacksonville facility will be home, resource to foster kids
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL – May 18, 2009
Construction is under way for a second facility in Jacksonville to help teenagers aging out of foster care develop independent living skills. The $1.4 million facility at the Children's Home Society on San Diego Road on the Southside will combine a group home for teen mothers in foster care with apartments for girls after they have aged out of foster care at 18.

State issues final foster care plan
ABC7, San Francisco, CA – May 13, 2009
The California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care, created in 2006, previously presented its 79 recommendations to the state Judicial Council in San Francisco in August. California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, who chaired the commission, said, "The urgent need for action on these recommendations cannot be overstated." Moreno said nearly half of California's children in foster care have been in care for more than two years and 17 percent more than three years. He said, "Too often these children find themselves in a foster-care limbo, shifted from placement to placement, and separated from siblings, friends, and schools. We simply must act now to fulfill our promise to them -- the promise of a brighter future."

Monday, May 11, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Education

Pitching New HOPE for Dropouts
Youth Today, Washington, DC – May 6, 2009
The effort to focus more attention on the national high school dropout problem came to the National Press Club this week, where an alliance of youth advocates and educators released statistics in an attempt to quantify the issue in terms of dollars and sense. They also used the occasion to introduce and pitch HOPE USA – their proposal for $2 billion in federal spending to provide financial incentives to states and school districts to fund programs aimed at turning dropouts into graduates.

School gets more than PASSing grade
Seacoastonline.com, Portsmouth, NH – May 10, 2009
By their own admission, high school seniors Athena Demergis and Joe Woods were on a fast track to nowhere. "I thought I was in charge and I didn't have a good attitude," said Demergis, 18, of Barrington. "I didn't care much for my classes and I was mouthing off at my teachers," said Woods, 18, of Greenland. Both now say they are grateful for the opportunity to change the script from likely high school dropouts to graduates next month with definite plans for the future. They say that transferring to the Portsmouth Alternative Secondary School, or PASS, in Portsmouth, changed their attitudes about education and life.

Lawmakers sponsor career diploma curriculum
The News-Star, Monroe, LA – May 10, 2009
The first of a pair of bills that sponsoring lawmakers say would help reduce the state's dropout problem and allow high school students to pursue a career track cleared its first hurdle last week. SB259 by Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe, overcame Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek's initial opposition and won the unanimous approval of the Senate Education Committee on Thursday and moved to the full Senate for debate.

Juvenile Justice

Youth offender programs make progress
The Times Herald, Montgomery County, PA – May 11, 2009
Finding that a community-based alternative punishment program for youthful offenders is a great crime prevention initiative, Montgomery County’s top law enforcer vowed to continue the program. “We have good results. It’s an empowering program for people across the community. They want to get involved and they want to be able to help provide some direction for kids who sometimes fall off the path,” said county District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

THS youth court program leaves impression on attorney
Taunton Daily Gazette, Taunton, MA – May 10, 2009
Taunton High School’s youth court, a restorative justice program aimed at holding students accountable for their actions, while reducing suspensions, is in its third year. In the program, a student who has admitted to committing an infraction can choose to have a jury of fellow students — supervised by adult advisors — assign sanctions, which can include community service, writing an essay or making a formal apology. Students are trained to serve as jurors, lawyers and bailiffs.

Girls Court helps teens build their self-esteem
Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, HI – May 10, 2009
"This is my house," one of the girls says, holding up her artwork. It's a piece of poster board shaped like a house with colored paper shapes and beads glued on. "It represents how it's crazy because we're always fighting. This heart here is broken, but it's still whole because we still love each other. We argue but we make up after." It is a Friday afternoon and six girls are enjoying a creative outlet after an intense session in the courtroom. This is Girls Court, a program in Family Court that serves girls in the juvenile justice system. They meet once a month to check in with Presiding Judge Karen Radius and a team of probation officers, therapists and attorneys, all female.

Foster Care

'Aging out' of foster care can be a challenge
Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY – May 7, 2009
Like any other graduating college senior, Sarah Lucas is nervous. "Very nervous," she says. "I've always used school as a way of focusing and now it's going to be taken away." Luckily, Lucas, now 22, and an international relations major at State University College at Geneseo, heard from a friend about the Orphan Foundation of America — whose purpose is to help foster children get to higher education and work.

A store like no other - ILP Store gives jobs to foster kids, goods to people in need
Chico News & Review, Chico, CA – May 7, 2009
A couple of years ago Tami Thompson was sitting in her office looking up at the mountains of donated clothes, furniture and household goods that lined her office walls and were stacked in the hallway. The items, destined for foster kids aging out of foster care, didn’t fit into their already-stuffed storage unit. Thompson is the coordinator of Independent Living Programs (ILP), a division of Northern California Youth and Family Programs, a nonprofit that provides a range of services to foster children and parents.

Monday, May 04, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Education

At Risk Task Force seeks community participation
Banner Graphic, Greencastle, IN – May 4, 2009
Six of every 100 teenage girls gave birth in 2006. In that same year, 4.27 million babies were born. 6,400 of those were born to moms under the age of 15 and 89,000 of that 4.27 million were babies born to Indiana teenagers. These were statistics presented by Dr. Veronica Dorsch at a task force meeting of concerned community members to discuss at risk behaviors of teenagers in Putnam County. This group grew out of a Wellness Committee put together at North Putnam schools earlier this year.

Nashville seeks solutions to school dropout problem
Tennessean, Nashville, TN – May 2, 2009
More non-traditional schools offering Web-based learning or after-hours courses are needed to address Metro Nashville's dropout problem, a top adviser for Mayor Karl Dean said Friday. Danielle Mezera, director of the mayor's office of children and youth, spoke to the Education Writers Association about how Dean has addressed the graduation rate. Mezera said Dean's office is exploring ideas about how to open schools during off-hours and how to offer Web-based coursework in libraries around the city.

Schools work to keep students from dropping out
Le Mars Daily Sentinel, Plymouth County, IA – May 1, 2009
Two Plymouth County school districts experienced higher student dropout rates during the 2007-08 school year than in previous years. Larry Johnson, principal at Le Mars Community High School, isn't sure why 13 students in grades 9-12 dropped out last year, but he has some theories. "We feel one dropout is too many," he said. "We try to keep it down as low as we can and work as hard as we can." One way LCS officials do that is by offering students who may not be doing well in a traditional classroom setting the opportunity to attend the district's Alternative High School.

Juvenile Justice

Youth Summit helps kids turn their lives around
Yuma Sun, Yuma County, AZ – May 2, 2009
Yuma County has between 475 to 500 juveniles on probation, and the Justice Center believes these troubled youth have simply made poor choices, and can still turn their lives around. That is the idea behind the Third Annual Youth Summit, held for 100 kids on probation at the University of Phoenix Saturday, where motivational speakers shared their life experiences to provide inspiration.

Students honored for anti-violence essays
The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, UT – May 2, 2009
The Utah Board of Juvenile Justice will honor 11 middle school students at the Governor's Mansion on Thursday for anti-violence essays they wrote as part of Utah's annual Do the Write Thing Challenge. More than 770 Utah seventh- and eighth-grade students submitted essays about how violence has affected their lives and what they can do to prevent violence in their communities.

Foster Care

Panera Bread owners offer jobs to foster kids
Orlando Sentinel, Central Florida – May 4, 2009
A local couple who run Panera Bread franchises hope to give foster kids some experience in the work world. The Foundation for Foster Children, a Central Florida nonprofit organization, has announced a partnership with Panera franchises owned by Annette and Gavin Ford of Winter Park. The Fords are hiring young people to work in their restaurants.

New Village on Jacksonville's Southside to raise foster teens
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL – May 4, 2009
A village is rising on Jacksonville's Southside, one that will be able to salvage at any one time the lives of 40 young people, ages 16 to 21, to help make them responsible, productive young adults. They are the young people who in most cases are destined to be underemployed if employed at all, stand a good chance of being incarcerated or homeless, become substance abusers, collect food stamps at 11 times the normal rate and, if a female, have a child out of wedlock before the age of 18 and a second baby by age 21.