Monday, June 22, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Colin Powell, foot soldiers battle America's dropout 'catastrophe', 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.

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