Monday, June 29, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Education

No dropouts from this Camden, NJ, high school
Associated Press, Camden, NJ – June 27, 2009
Angelo Drummond wears a pressed white shirt and a red power tie for his two-hour presentation to his harshest critics — a panel of fellow students at Camden's MetEast High School. The stocky 17-year-old lays out his intention to study through the summer to bring up his scores on the SAT and New Jersey's high school graduation exam. He also explains his senior-year project to plan a lounge where teenagers can hang out, study and avoid the trouble that snags so many in his city. The response from his peers: he needs to consider scaling back the project's ambitions — and learn more about how to get a nonprofit grant. It's an extraordinary display of wisdom for students in a city where dropout rates are consistently among New Jersey's highest and test scores are among the lowest. But there were no dropouts at MetEast, and every member of its graduating class has been accepted into at least one college.

Waco ISD program tries to help incoming freshmen prepare for high school
Waco Tribune-Herald, Waco, TX - June 28, 2009
Finding your way around a new school and juggling a high school schedule may be tough, but school officials say the challenges facing incoming freshmen run even deeper. The Waco Independent School District is piloting a new program for soon-to-be ninth-graders, Summer Success Academy, that they hope will not only help get the kids through their freshman year but build a foundation for success throughout high school.

Metro School Helps Motivates High School Dropouts
News Channel 5, Nashville, TN – June 24, 2009
The Metro school district is offering a program designed to pull drop outs back in school. Administrators are using some unique efforts to get people interested. Elaine Fahrner had been manning the phones for the past week trying to recruit former students who had fallen off track.

Juvenile Justice

Forum explores increasing need for juvenile justice services
Coloradoan, Larimer County, CO – June 26, 2009
As the number of youth shuffling through the Larimer County Justice System continues to increase, the need for services like the Center for Family Outreach grows, speakers said Thursday at the center's annual fundraising breakfast. Since 2003, when Magistrate Mary Jo Berenato took the bench, youth case filings have increased 40 percent from 850 filings in 2003 to 1,350 in 2008, Berenato said. "And that doesn't include the 400 to 500 that are deferred," she told a group of about 200 at the Fort Collins Country Club. The Center for Family Outreach is a Larimer County nonprofit that offers services for youth in the justice system ranging from a teenager who got in trouble drinking or stealing once, to those with chronic criminal records and addictions.

Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center gets new start
The Detroit News, Mount Clemens, MI – June 26, 2009
Chuck Seidelman is nearly breathless as he moves from room to room in the newly renovated Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center. As the buzz of a construction crew whirrs nearby, Seidelman, the center's director, unlocks classrooms, a training room for staff, a new medical unit and a renovated gym. "My belief is we need to keep these kids active," said Seidelman, a tall man with light hair, a slight Kentucky drawl and a propensity for saying "ma'am." "They need to be outside, they need exercise, they need education, and they need therapy. If we keep these kids locked up all the time, they'll think they deserve to be locked up all the time."

New law to help keep students out of justice system
The Cape Coral Daily Breeze, Florida – June 25, 2009
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is anticipating a drop in the number of children referred for criminal acts following the approval of legislation changing zero tolerance policies in schools. Senate Bill 1540 was presented to Gov. Charlie Crist in mid-May, and the governor signed it last week at a high school in Jacksonville. State officials expect it to divert many children away from the juvenile justice system. "This legislation maintains Florida's strict school safety policies while reducing the unintended consequences that have led to the wrongful placement of students in the juvenile justice system," said Crist during the bill signing June 17.

Foster Care

Job fair debuts at event that helps foster youths
San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio, TX – June 27, 2009
Some of the 125 foster children who attended a self-sufficiency fair at the Neighborhood Place on the city's West Side Friday walked in with nothing in their hands, pessimistic about having to attend another foster care event. But many walked out with a bag full of catalogs, business cards and hope. A 17-year-old named Carmen from Goliad, who was taken from her home because of abuse when she was a 2, said she aspires to be a nurse practitioner. She said she knows her road will be a challenging one.

Program serving aged-out foster youth expands
San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA – June 23, 2009
When foster youth Beaunca Wilson turned 18 in 2007 and was emancipated from the group home she was living in, she had nowhere to go. But in 2008, she joined the First Place for Youth housing program. She moved into her first apartment and took vocational training to become a computer technician. She had to stop the training when she couldn't find child care for her 8-month-old daughter, but she since has squared that away. She begins classes today at Laney College.

Bill would add foster children to food stamp rolls at age 18
Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, CA – June 23, 2009
A bill by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal that would enroll foster children who turn 18 in food stamp programs on Tuesday cleared the Senate Human Services Committee. Will Shuck, the Long Beach Democrat's chief of staff, said the bill cleared the committee with a 4-1 vote. He expects the legislation to make it to the governor's desk before the end of summer. Assembly Bill 719 would use federal funds and deliver food stamp support for foster youth as they "age out" of the system at 18. AB 719 would not rely on state funds. The bill cleared the Assembly without opposition, and is going through the process in the Senate. "This bill actually brings money to the state," Lowenthal said in a news release. "It helps young people who need it, and that helps merchants and cities. It's a win, win, win."

Monday, June 22, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Education

Colin Powell, foot soldiers battle America's dropout 'catastrophe'
CNN.com, Greensville, AL – June 18, 2009
Willie Thornton is on a rescue mission. One morning in March he set out to save Desmond Dunklin, a 19-year-old who should have graduated last year from Greenville High School in Greenville, Alabama. Thornton, 48, the school's dropout prevention coordinator, and Lt. Malcolm Owens, the school's police officer, drive the five minutes to Dunklin's house. "I need for you to show up," Thornton tells a sleepy Dunklin, who clearly has just been awakened by the men's repeated knocking on his door.

Breaking the Cycle
The Washington Post, Alexandria, VA – June 20, 2009
Monica Aramburu was in eighth grade at Lanier Middle School when she had her first child. Her senior year, she became a mother again. Most teenage girls with babies drop out of school. But Aramburu transferred to Bryant Adult Alternative High School in Fairfax County, where she and her daughter and, later, her son could attend school together.

Bill would relax strict graduation requirements
Muskegon Chronicle, West Michigan – June 21, 2009
Legislation that would alter strict graduation requirements and make room for career skills education will be the focus of a public forum in Muskegon Monday. The proposal currently before the state House education committee would provide students with individualized educational plans that would allow them to forgo algebra II, for example, in favor of courses at career technical schools.

Juvenile Justice

Baker’s bill for establishing juvenile justice panel approved
Times Leader, Harrisburg, VA – June 17, 2009
The state Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, that seeks to prevent further cases of corruption in county juvenile courts and restore public confidence by establishing an Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice. Baker said the legislation was drafted in response to the case of corruption uncovered in Luzerne County that might have resulted in hundreds of juveniles being improperly sentenced and inappropriately placed in detention.

Foster Care

The Tennessean, Nashville, TN – June 20, 2009
Passion Ray knew how to wield a gun at 11, landing her in the foster-care system three years later. "I was unruly, very unruly," Ray said. "I had trouble with truancy, hung out with gangs and answered the door with a gun in my hand. I was a lot of trouble." But at 18 — the age youth can be free of state custody — Ray didn't know how to fill out job applications or any other paperwork associated with everyday life. On June 11, the governor signed a bill that established a post-custody services advisory council to make recommendations for continued support.

New home offers hope to foster teens
My Fox, Tampa, FL – June 19, 2009
With every shovel of dirt, volunteers work hard to finish the first case managed, aging out foster care facility in the state. Right now, foster care children turning 18 in Florida, age out of the system and start to live independently for the first time. In some cases those teens fall into trouble. "Because most of the kids when they turn 18, even if they have a place to go a lot of them are not prepared to handle everyday life," said Tom Atchison, president of New Beginnings of Tampa Bay. "They don't even know how to handle a check book."

An adult too soon: New law gives foster youths more time to grow up
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL June 18, 2009
Danielle Campbell did not get to ease her way into adulthood. While many young people today are propped up by Mom and Dad well into their mid-20s, for young adults who leave foster care -- like Danielle -- there is no such safety net. When the state is your parent and you decide to leave the system, the door slams shut and no matter how badly you stumble, you can't come back. "Nothing prepares you for how tough it is," she said. "You're hungry, you have nowhere to stay ... and that's when it hits you: There's no one to call." But thanks to new state legislation passed last month, the transition just got easier for the almost 1,400 or so youths who leave foster care annually in Illinois without a family connection.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Education

Former high school dropout heads to UC Berkeley on full scholarship
San Mateo County Times, San Mateo, CA – June 13, 2009
High school dropouts who get addicted to drugs and mixed up in gangs typically don't wind up attending UC Berkeley on a full scholarship. But Alex Alex Garcia has dedicated his life to defying the odds against him. Four years ago, when he was 20, Garcia was sitting in the San Mateo County jail for the sixth time, headed to prison, when a guard told him he would amount to nothing. These painful words made Garcia determined to turn his life around. He was fortunate to enough to avoid prison, and instead was released into a drug-rehabilitation transition house in Redwood City. Last month his life took another positive turn when he received the national Jack Kent Cooke Foundation's Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

District aiming to curb dropouts
Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Pulaski County, AR – June 14, 2009
The Pulaski County Special School District is planning to use about $1 million in federal stimulus money to establish a Jacksonville-based academy for ninth-graders who have failed a grade and are in jeopardy of dropping out.

High school, the sequel: Adult ed grads wiser, grateful, career-ready
Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas, NV – June 15, 2009
High school dropout rates are tied to a community’s economic outlook. The bleaker the forecast, the more likely that students quit school to help their families pay the bills. This high school graduation season, something else is at work. Although Clark County School District officials say they’re seeing a steady increase in students who have left their traditional high school to care for younger siblings or find work, at the same time more adults have returned to school to improve their chances of finding employment in a tough job market. The district’s Adult Ed program is responding, offering classes from dawn to dusk in more than 40 locations, including at Desert Rose Adult High School, the program’s only bricks-and-mortar campus.

Juvenile Justice

Intervention leads to drop in juvenile cases
Greenwich Time, Hartford, CT – June 11, 2009
Early intervention into the lives of troubled children has resulted in a 30 percent decrease in juvenile justice cases over the last four years, according to a new report that credits community services and increased departmental cooperation on the state level. The report, released Wednesday by the National Juvenile Justice Network and the Bridgeport-based Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, says that, since a class-action lawsuit was settled in 1997, Connecticut has made massive changes and is now a national model for reform.

Alameda County Pioneers Restorative Justice for Youth
New America Media, Berkeley, CA – June 15, 2009
Members of the circle arrived one by one on a recent Friday evening at the Berkeley home of Leavy Perkins. She is the great grandmother of Dante Green, and had raised the young man from infancy. Green, 19, was the reason they’d converged, and he greeted them with a smile and warm hug before the members took seats around Perkins’ dining juveni table. The Circle of Support and Accountability—COSA--that gathered at Perkins' home has been meeting weekly for the past six months, beginning when Green was a juvenile offender locked up in Camp Sweeney, a juvenile detention facility.

Foster Care

Savings plan benefits teens leaving foster care
USA Today, Bay City, MI – June 14, 2009
Rob Hilla entered foster care at age 12 after his mother left the family and the quadriplegic uncle who took him in died. At 14, he got into trouble and spent time in the juvenile justice system. Now 22, he says, "I've been able to turn my life around." He moved from his hometown of Detroit, where street life tempted him, to Bay City, Mich., where he has worked as a restaurant cook and a house painter. He's taking college classes in auto repair. He's also building a nest egg. Three years ago, he joined a program for current and former foster children, ages 14 to 24, that matches every dollar he saves up to $1,000 a year.

Milpitas students rally to help foster youth join graduation ceremony
Mercury News, Milpitas, CA – June 11, 2009
Students at Milpitas High School have begun a mass mobilization to fight for the right of a fellow student to walk in Saturday's graduation ceremony. After reading on MercuryNews.com Wednesday evening about Shontale Taylor — a foster youth who, unlike most of her peers, is poised to complete high school but has been denied the right to participate in the ceremony — a fellow student took action. Stanford-bound Ivy Nguyen, who didn't know Taylor, launched a Facebook campaign on her behalf and by 10 p.m. had reached 100 current and former students.

Monday, June 08, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Education

Cody Chronicles: "Second Chance" Program Helps Curb Dropout Problem
WUOM 91.7, Dearborn, MI – June 8, 2009
Four o'clock on a weekday is typically not a good time to find students at a high school. But it is at Cody High in Detroit - where a lot of kids are just starting their school day. "This is Cody High School's Second Chance program," says Cody Principal Johnathon Matthews. He's looking at a lunchroom with 200 students that he says were all potential dropouts.

Coaching Students To Stay In School
Parade, South Atlanta, GA – June 7, 2009
The South Atlanta Educational Complex is a vast brick-and-glass building housing 1000 or so 9th- through 12th-graders. While its students look like those from any big-city school district, administrators estimate that about 85% come from families whose income is below the federal poverty line. In addition to getting an education, many of these teens are supporting a child or younger siblings or caring for an elderly relative or sick parent. Some are in foster care, and some are homeless. Others are children of recent immigrants who work long hours and don't know how to help them thrive academically.

Take Stock in Children celebrates by giving scholarships to 93 Miami-Dade students
Miami Herald, Miami, FL – June 7, 2009
Luco Pierre's newly won high school diploma symbolizes years of overcoming hardships and beating the odds. And now he has a four-year scholarship to help him achieve even more. Luco, 17, was one of 93 Miami-Dade high school seniors who recently received college scholarships after graduating from the Take Stock in Children Program. ''I'm a Take Stock in Children success story,'' he said during the May 28 ceremony at Miami Dade College's Chapman Center in downtown Miami. ''The fact that you know you have a secure future in college helps a lot,'' added Luco, a senior at Dr. Michael M. Krop High School. ``It makes me feel fortunate.'' The nonprofit program is a public-private partnership aimed at reducing crime and high school dropout rates.

Diploma Isn't the Final Solution to the Dropout Crisis
AScribe, Baltimore, MD – June 4, 2009
Recent graduates from Philadelphia's public high schools had higher employment rates and higher annual earnings than their classmates who dropped out, but many of them still did not have incomes above the federal poverty line, according to a new study from the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. The report suggests that although it is essential to increase high school graduation rates, "without additional postsecondary education, the effect of a high school diploma on lives and livelihoods may be rather limited."

Juvenile Justice

Turning toward juvenile justice
The News-Star, Monroe, LA – June 7, 2009
The Louisiana Legislature is currently considering a number of measures that would change the way our juvenile justice system works. Some would change the way parole is addressed for juvenile offenders. Some would change the way juvenile offenders are treated in secure care facilities. One of particular note would take a first step toward refocusing efforts on community programs addressing both public safety and effective treatment, rather than on the costly incarceration of youth.

Campbell Law Juvenile Justice Program Receives Grant from N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission
dBusinessNews, Buies Creek, NC – June 8, 2009
The Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University today announced the receipt of a two-year grant in the amount of $144,904 from the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission for use in the Law School’s Juvenile Justice Mediation program. This grant will enable the program to be expanded to serve Wake County when the Law School moves to its new location in downtown Raleigh in September 2009. Juvenile criminal cases from the local district are referred by the district attorney’s office, local schools or the juvenile’s defense attorney when it is determined that a case can be mediated without prosecution. The most typical crimes mediated through the program are assault and property crimes.

A Brighter Future for Kids in Juvenile Justice System
WLTX, Columbia, SC – June 4, 2009
The AMI Kids Organization has worked for forty years to change that. "Working on my attitude and my temper," said 18-year-old Courtney Jennings. "I'm doing 18 months at Camp Bennettsville, little bit of a trouble maker when I was out but now I'm changing." Jennings is attending the AMI Kids camp, and now has the feeling that there might be an even bigger reward for doing the right thing. "Coming out of the trouble, being as one, being a team," he said. The camp is on the SC State University campus. Kids participate in everything from track and field to spelling bees, academic quizzes to first aid.

Foster Care

WMU's Foster Youth program gets $500,000 grant
MLive, Kalamazoo, MI – June 5, 2009
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded Western Michigan University a $500,000 grant to support the university's Foster Youth and Higher Education program. The program, which the university initiated last fall with 51 students, provides full tuition, academic support and year-round housing to undergraduate students leaving the foster-care system. With the grant, WMU will hire a full-time director and fund a project to evaluate the program.

Program encourages foster youths to get degree
The Olympian, Olympia, WA – June 4, 2009
You know it’s an important event when six Washington governors gather in the same room to award young people a scholarship. The event takes on added significance when one of those former governors is Gary Locke, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. What brought Locke, Gov. Chris Gregoire and former governors Booth Gardner, John Spellman, Dan Evans and a late-arriving Mike Lowry together last Friday was a Seattle event to award college scholarships to 44 foster care youngsters.

Building on YouthBuild
The Herald-Palladium, Benton Harbor, MI – June 7, 2009
Two years ago, Jamie Moore dropped out of school. Michael Springer graduated from high school but then, admittedly, "went down the wrong path and made some very bad decisions." Kent Rush was working from time to time at what he says were "dead-end jobs." Shanedra Huddleston wasn't doing much of anything. "YouthBuild got me on the right track, mentally and physically, and prepared me for the real world," said Huddleston, 23, of Benton Harbor.

Monday, June 01, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Education

Cadet program gets tough with high-school dropouts
The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, AZ – May 30, 2009
As thousands of Arizona's college-bound youths were busy decorating dorm rooms or guzzling beer at keg parties, the newest cadets at Arizona Project Challenge were getting a vastly different initiation into life. In a grueling, 22-week program filled with buzz cuts and blisters, 17-year-old Michael Jensen and 35 other high-school dropouts learned the how-tos of military training and now are preparing to enter the adult world. But in addition to graduating from the Arizona National Guard-run program with his peers this week, Jensen set himself apart by becoming the first cadet to also graduate from high school through a new online program.

High School Dropouts Speak out for GreenTek Charter
WIFR.com, Rockford, IL – May 27, 2009
Rockford's high school dropout rate is one of the biggest challenges facing our community. Now a new charter school proposal targets kids who have left the traditional public schools, to get them to graduation. "We have thousands of youth that's out here that's begging for a second opportunity that can't get it," says Joseph Rayford III at a public hearing for the GreenTek Career Academy Charter School. The desire to fill that gap is at the heart of the charter proposal.

Horry County tries to fight dropout rate with Connect program
The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, SC – June 1, 2009
Three years ago, Johnston Long was traveling down the wrong path. He wasn't going to class, and when he was at school, he spent a lot of time in the principal's office. "I wasn't passing anything," Long said. "I knew I wasn't going to pass my grade, and I would have been back again in the eighth grade. I probably would have never finished high school." Then came a letter in the mail from Horry County Schools. Seeing higher dropout rates every year, the district wanted students such as Long to participate in its new Connect program.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile offenders getting better chances for success
Beaumont Enterprise, Beaumont, TX – May 29, 2009
A pin drop would have reverberated in the room. About 20 students scribbled intently on the papers placed before them, quietly raising hands to ask questions. "It's a quiet day. We like that," said principal Steve Gatewood, as he looked over the rows of seated students. When Texas launched an extensive reform of the juvenile probation system in 1995, legislators spent millions developing the juvenile justice alternative education program, an educational solution for young offenders.

Bill to Reform Life Sentences for Children Approved
California Chronicle, Sacramento, CA – May 30, 2009
The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved SB 399 – The Fair Sentences for Youth Act. The legislation 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. "Children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than adults," said Yee, who is also a child psychologist.

Cincinnati's At Promise Summits
Final Call, Washington, D.C. – May 27, 2009
“Incarceration is becoming the new American apartheid and poor children of color are the fodder. It is time to sound a loud alarm about this threat to American unity and community, act to stop the growing criminalization of children at younger and younger ages, and tackle the unjust treatment of minority youths and adults in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems with urgency and persistence,” explained Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman last February at the National Cradle to Prison Pipeline Summit. The Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC) and the Black Male Initiative of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College decided to do something about this by hosting a four part series called the At Promise Summit. The first summit was last fall.

Foster Care

Bill may help foster kids shift to adulthood
Recordnet.com, Stockton, CA – May 29, 2009
During her nine years in the foster care system, in which she was shuttled from home to home and lost contact with her only family member - a younger sister who was adopted - Kayla Whitaker dreamed of one thing. "I couldn't wait to turn 18. My main goal was to get out of the system and be on my own," Whitaker said. "Five weeks before my birthday, it hit me: 'Oh my God! I can't do this by myself. I can't get a job, get an apartment. I still want to be a kid.' "

Tech organization gives foster care youth hope
The Daily Toreador, Lubbock, TX – May 27, 2009
This Saturday, Jethro Washington will receive his high school diploma from Lubbock High School even with the odds against him. Washington has been in foster care for six years, and according to On The Move National Foster Care Youth statistics, youth in foster care are 44 percent less likely to graduate from high school than other students. "It's exciting to consider what's ahead," he said. "I'm not anxious, but it will be a little weird." Washington plans to enroll in classes at Texas Tech in the fall and compete in football and track, another unlikely feat for foster care youth.