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.