Monday, June 29, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


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."

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