Monday, November 30, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Guard Offers Youths Second Chance
Times Record Online, Arkansas – November 27, 2009
Youths enrolled in the Arkansas National Guard Youth Challenge program receive measured doses of structure and freedom — the goal is teaching at-risk youths who want to change their lives how to do it. “We are a very structured behavior modification program,” program admissions coordinator Hugh Leavell said. Many students accepted into the free 22-week residential program are high school dropouts, but there are restrictions on who can enroll, Leavell said. It is a voluntary program. Youths cannot be court-ordered into it, their parents cannot make them go, and by federal law, participants cannot have a felony conviction. They must demonstrate that they want to see a change in their lives, he said.

San Francisco's school of last resort
San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA – November 29, 2009
With a convicted bank robber and a former methamphetamine user in charge, John Muir Charter School on Treasure Island is not your typical public school. ut the typical public school experience didn't work for the 105 students at John Muir. Among them are former robbers and thieves. Some are teenage parents. All were academic failures elsewhere and, at one point or another, on the state's long list of high school dropouts. Each one wants another chance.

Juvenile Justice

Youngsters get second chance to do the right thing
Tri-Parish Times, Houma, LA – November 29, 2009
Bayou Lafourche Marine Institute in Raceland has been a well-kept secret in the Lafourche and Terrebonne parish area for far too long, says Executive Director Lolita Gray. The non-profit organization is the place where juvenile justice judges opt to send troubled youth instead of having them serve time in a detention center. According to Gray, the Raceland site is a chapter of the AMIkids foundation, which was formed when Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Juvenile Court Judge Frank Orlando decided to decrease the cycle of juvenile offenders in his courtroom.

Breaking the cycle of youth crime
Houston Chronicle, Texas – November 28, 2009
In her nearly three years of handling juvenile cases, Montgomery County Judge Mary Ann Turner has seen a growing number of young people in trouble with the law because of behavior related to a mental health disorder. Their crimes range from truancy and theft to more serious acts such as family violence and assault. The juveniles are placed in detention, but when they get out their problems often persist. “I have detention docket three days a week,” said Turner, who presides over Court-at-law No. 4. “I can look out there, and I know half these kids. If you don't address the underlying cause of the behavior with kids at this age, you can release them, and they'll be back.” To break that cycle, the county has launched a pilot program to get juveniles with mental health needs out of the criminal system and into an intensive program at home.

New Program to Make Probation More Efficient
ABC23, Bakersfield, CA – November 24, 2009
Doing more with less, that's the new mantra of county government as the Board of Supervisors is expecting less and less money the next year or two. So, the board is looking for programs that streamline resources, which is something the probation department began to implement last year. The program is called PACT, or Positive Achievement Change Tool, it's a way to assess juvenile offenders risk of recidivism and what they need to help change their behavior.

Foster Care

Big Family supports needy
Daily Tribune, Oakland, CA – November 27, 2009
Children's advocate overcomes personal tragedies, gives children a happy Christmas. At age 18, Jeanne Fowler walked out the door of the foster care home she'd lived in for nine years and never looked back. Somehow she put the abuse and neglect of a lifetime behind her, became a nurses' aide, wife, loving mother and grandmother. In 1999, she started Big Family of Michigan, which last year provided 6,700 low-income children Christmas gifts and matched 1,500 foster care children throughout the state with Christmas "wish" sponsors.

Age no barrier for one teen who finds permanent home
Democrat and Chronicle, Monroe County, NY – November 27, 2009
In a room at Monroe County Family Court where squirming kids wait to be adopted, Turiq Floyd's muscular physique and serious expression stand out like the exception that he is. At 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, the Greece Athena High School football player towers over his social worker, his soon-to-be mom and even the judge who would approve his fate. Yet at an age when kids typically pull back from their folks, the 17-year-old who had been neglected by his biological family and baptized by the mean streets is heading in another direction. He was adopted last week by his foster mother, Pauline Wilson, whom he long ago started calling Grandma. Ask the bashful guy, who turns 18 in May, why he wanted to be adopted and Turiq pauses. "I need a foundation," he says. "Everybody got to start somewhere."

Family programs highlight issues involved with foster care

The Township Journal, Newton, NJ – November 25, 2009

The Family Success Center at Project Self-Sufficiency has partnered with the Raise Me Up campaign to increase awareness of the benefits of becoming involved with the care of a foster child. The Raise Me Up campaign is an initiative of the Casey Family Programs, the largest national foundation whose sole mission is to advocate for children in foster care. The campaign’s message is simple, “You don’t have to raise a foster child to raise them up. You just have to raise your hand and say you’ll help.”


Blacks hit hard by economy's punch

The Washington Post, Washington, DC – November 24, 2009

These days, 24-year-old Delonta Spriggs spends much of his time cooped up in his mother's one-bedroom apartment in Southwest Washington, the TV blaring soap operas hour after hour, trying to stay out of the streets and out of trouble, held captive by the economy. As a young black man, Spriggs belongs to a group that has been hit much harder than any other by unemployment. Joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old black men has reached Great Depression proportions -- 34.5 percent in October, more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population.

Green jobs training programs receive $55 million
Mother Nature Network - November 24, 2009
Green jobs training programs from across the country have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving – $55 million in grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funds will go to programs to train individuals in underserved communities for the green jobs of today and the future. The Green Jobs Capacity Building Grants totaled $5.8 million and will allow participants in the Labor Department green training programs to expand their client base. These grants are targeted specifically at Native American communities, women, at-risk youth, and farm workers.

Monday, November 23, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


House Democrats Introduce Legislation to End High School Dropout Crisis
eNews Park Forest, Washington, DC – November 19, 2009
Democratic lawmakers announced today they will introduce critical legislation to address the high school dropout crisis, which poses a growing threat to the nation’s economic stability and global competitiveness. Nearly one-third of all high school students do not to graduate every year, costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars in lost revenue. Nationwide, about 7,000 high school students drop out every day. Only about 70 percent of students now graduate from high school with a regular diploma. There are 2,000 “dropout factories” across the country, which produce more than 50 percent of the nation’s dropouts, and a recent study suggests that in the 50 largest U.S. cities, only 53 percent of students graduate on time.

DMACC, D.M. school district start program for dropouts
Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA – November 18, 2009
A program created through a partnership between Des Moines Area Community College and the Des Moines school district aims to give high school dropouts in central Iowa a second chance to continue their education. DMACC and Des Moines school officials announced Tuesday their acceptance of a $300,000 start-up grant from the Walmart Foundation to begin a Gateway to College program, a nationally recognized education model that started in 2000 at Portland Community College in Oregon. The program gives high school dropouts full access to college courses, facilities and support services.

Second chance for school dropouts
Pahrump Valley Times, Pahrump, NV – November 20, 2009
An overview of youth programs was presented by Master Sgt. Albert Sanches of the Air National Guard during Monday's Nye County District School Board meeting. Maj. Keith Alfeiri of the Army National Guard was also on hand to answer questions. Among the free programs offered by the Guard is the Youth Challenge in which participants can earn high school credits, get their GED or high school diploma and learn life coping and job skills. Participants must be high school dropouts or be at risk of dropping out by being behind in credits, expelled or truant.

Juvenile Justice

Wyo. Committee Approves 2 Juvenile Justice Bills
CBS 4, Cheyenne, WY – November 19, 2009
A legislative committee has given approval to two bills aimed at creating uniformity in how juvenile offenders are handled in Wyoming. The bills will be considered by the full Legislature next year. One seeks to establish intake and risk assessment standards for arresting agencies. The other aims to establish standards for the operation of juvenile detention facilities based on national criteria.

Hidden injustice: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in juvenile courts
The Hill, Washington, DC – November 18, 2009
For more than 20 years, the juvenile justice system has steadily become more punitive in how it treats youth accused of delinquent offenses. In some jurisdictions, the pendulum is slowly starting to swing back, with reform efforts underway to develop more fair and effective juvenile courts. Notably absent from these efforts, however, has been a focus on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. The lack of professional guidance for juvenile justice professionals working with these youth is cause for concern. According to a 2009 study by Ceres Policy Research, LGBT youth comprise close to 12% of the overall population of youth in juvenile detention facilities. Despite this compelling statistic, many juvenile justice professionals pay scant—if any—attention to LGBT youth.

Foster Care

Yakima program helps foster kids start college
Seattle PI, Yakima, WA – November 17, 2009
Like a lot of freshmen, Taylor Judd is living in the dorms and getting used to college. It's her first quarter, and she's still figuring things out. "I'm just trying to get my prerequisites done so I can decide what I want to do," the 19-year-old says, sitting recently in the Hopf Student Union Building at Yakima Valley Community College. The program, started in 2006, is designed to help students in foster care pursue and prepare for post-secondary education. Until this year, it was known as the Foster Care to College Mentoring Program and paired students with mentors who received training to guide them through the process and paperwork of applying for college, scholarships, financial aid and housing.

Navy veteran helps teens in foster care learn to fend for themselves
Knox News, Knoxville, TN – November 22, 2009
One dollar was all LaKeisha Fears-Perez had to give, but that one dollar was enough to secure her dream. The mother, grandmother and foster parent is the founder of Utterly Terrific Tots and Teens, 1407 E. Fifth Ave. The center, which opened earlier this year, is part for-profit day care and part nonprofit after-hours refuge for teens in foster care who are about to set out on their own. The U.S. Navy veteran bought the building after spotting it one day. She told the owner all she had was a dollar in her pocket. He was willing to work with her, she said.

Helping youth at a crossroads
News & Record, High Point, NC – November 20, 2009

In the media room of the converted two-story brick home housing the I Am Now program, poster-sized cap-and-gown graduation pictures show the boys who succeeded here. “He was valedictorian at his school,” points out Jah-Pree Jackson, 21, as he crouched over homework to earn an associate’s degree in social work at GTCC. Of another, “They found him under a bridge.’” Young men like Jackson, who admits to quitting school and having done “stupid stuff,” are able to live at the program’s Crossroads House for free while they work toward their high school diplomas and stay off troubled paths. The program’s founder made many of the same mistakes after leaving foster care with no support system. That’s the story of many of the boys who have come through the program.

Monday, November 16, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Summit aims at reducing Pittsburgh high school drop-out rates
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh, PA – November 13, 2009
City school graduates who fall short of academic requirements for Pittsburgh Promise scholarships can get a second chance, officials announced Thursday at a summit focused on reversing drop-out rates. Starting with the Class of 2010, graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools with a grade point average between 2.0 and 2.49 can enroll for free in three courses at Community College of Allegheny County, said Saleem Ghubril, executive director of The Pittsburgh Promise, which provides $5,000 annual scholarships to city school graduates with a 2.5 grade average and higher.

Stay in school, Saginaw County ninth-graders agree at countywide summit, Saginaw, MI – November 13, 2009
About 1,400 Saginaw County high school freshmen gathered this morning at Saginaw Valley State University's Ryder Center to embrace the "stay in school" message. The Saginaw County Dropout Awareness & Prevention Summit was sponsored by the Saginaw Community Foundation. Speakers included a panel of high school dropouts who have resumed their educations, Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson Jr. and motivator Brian Pruitt, who told the teens that graduating from high school is essential to their success.

Sparking Confidence: Local Youth Apprenticeship Program Fights High Dropout Rates
The San Francisco Appeal, San Francisco, CA – November 12, 2009
High school dropout rates for America's kids are fodder for depressing thoughts. Nationwide, a full third of students do not graduate high school with a diploma, and 50% of African American and Latino students don't finish high school on time, according to dropout prevention group America's Promise Alliance. In California, "It seems 25% is the general consensus," says Chris Balme, executive director of the Bay Area's Spark, a youth apprenticeship program aiming to curb the dropout problem by teaching kids the relevance of school. "It's much higher than that in the communities that we serve." The spark for Spark came from seeing that ample learning opportunities for his students could be found in Philadelphia's business community. "There were businesses in the community, and none of those places were being used to engage students. Sometimes these are the best paces to learn." How so? "Show students what school is for by providing a hands on example," Balme explains.

Juvenile Justice

Justices debate life sentences for juveniles
CNN, Washington, DC – November 9, 2009
The Supreme Court wrestled in often emotional terms Monday over whether sentencing juvenile criminals to life in prison without parole is "cruel and unusual" punishment, especially when their crime is not murder. The justices appeared divided over how to treat two separate appeals, one involving a 13-year-old rapist and the other a 17-year-old violent home-invasion robber. "You can imagine someone who is a month short of his 18th birthday, and you are saying that, no matter what this person does -- commits the most horrible series of non-homicide offenses that you can imagine, a whole series of brutal rapes, assaults -- that person must at some point be made eligible for parole. That's your argument?" a skeptical Justice Samuel Alito asked a lawyer for one of the prisoners.

Morgan leading by example
Hartselle Enquirer, Alabama – November 11, 2009
Alabama is shifting to a more progressive, research-based approach to try and stem the flow of juvenile offenders maturing into members of the state’s adult prison population. And if Morgan County is any example, the shift is producing results. As part of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act passed by the Alabama legislature last year, counties are taking a systemic look at a child’s background, challenges and offenses and prescribing appropriate treatment.

OJJDP Administrators Gather for First Time
Youth Today, Washington, DC – November 12, 2009
Earmarks, independence and interagency politics were among the subjects discussed this week at an unprecedented gathering of former federal leaders on juvenile justice. Six of the eight former administrators of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention led OJJDP@35, a panel discussion hosted by Youth Today newspaper, speaking to an audience of advocates, foundation leaders, political staff and executives of programs that serve juvenile offenders.

Foster Care

Race factor explored in forum on foster care
The Buffalo News City & Region, Buffalo, NY – November 10, 2009
African-Americans and Hispanics account for nearly 25 percent of the children in Erie County, yet they make up more than 55 percent of those in foster care. Why are minority children so overrepresented in the country’s child welfare system, and what can be done about it? The solutions are not clear or simple, but a conference Monday in Buffalo offered strong evidence that judges, prosecutors, attorneys, caseworkers and social services officials are frustrated with a system that seems to encourage the disparities.

Governor Crist Applauds Successes of Florida’s Explore Adoption Initiative
WCTV, Tampa, FL – November 6, 2009
Governor Charlie Crist today applauded Florida’s successes in transforming state foster care while addressing child advocates, legislators and state child welfare system leaders from 18 states in Tampa. Florida was chosen as the host state for the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices policy institute, Changing the Outcome: Achieving and Sustaining a Safe Reduction in Foster Care, because of its success in safely reducing the number of children in foster care, including the Governor’s statewide Explore Adoption initiative. “In Florida, we have revolutionized our approach to foster care, and our efforts are helping more families stay together and dramatically increasing the adoption of foster children into loving families,” said Governor Crist. “Fewer children in foster care means fewer children with childhood memories filled with an ever-shifting series of foster homes and schools.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Seven Cities Launch Collaborative Efforts to Improve College Graduation Rates
Reuters, Seattle, WA – November 5, 2009
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced $4 million in grants to the National League of Cities' Institute for Youth, Education and Families, and seven cities to boost college graduation rates by better coordinating the services that colleges, schools and communities provide to students. The grants will help cities and colleges in New York, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, and California dramatically increase the number of young people who earn a degree beyond high school.

HISD chief plans to quickly cut dropout rate
Houston Chronicle, Houston, TX – November 6, 2009
A new $1 million-plus initiative could help reduce Houston's dropout rate by at least 3 percentage points before this year's senior class graduates, Superintendent Terry Grier said Thursday. As his first major initiative as Houston ISD chief, Grier is launching a credit-recovery program similar to ones he headed up in San Diego and Greensboro, N.C. Houston ISD's new program will add so-called graduation coaches to each high school.

Summit ties high school dropout rate to economy
Patagraph, Normal, IL – November 4, 2009
Bloomington High School senior Armand Ontiveros says he has never doubted that he will graduate in spring 2010. "I feel it's not an option in my mind," said Ontiveros, who wants to follow in his mother's footsteps to be among the first members of his family to graduate from college. To encourage more students to see education that way, about 500 students (including Ontiveros), educators, community leaders, parents and business people gathered Tuesday at the Illinois Dropout Prevention Summit at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center. The event was part of a nationwide effort to increase the graduation rate of students. Keynote speaker Alma Powell, chairwoman of America's Promise Alliance, stressed that helping teens graduate from high school is vital to the nation's economic future.

Juvenile Justice

ILLINOIS SPOTLIGHT: Handling of juvenile offenders questioned
Chicago Tribune, Rock Island, IL – November 5, 2009
Rock Island County likely will spend $1 million this year sending juveniles out of the area for pre-trial detention. Those resources would be better spent on the operation of a local facility, county officials agree. But there is simply not enough money to build and operate such a facility, they say. The Juvenile Justice Institute of Illinois, or JJI, contends in a recent report, however, that millions are saved and public safety is significantly improved when communities invest in locally based community alternatives for juvenile offenders, as opposed to building more detention centers.

Juvenile justice... New drug court acts as catalyst for life changes
Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Princeton, WV – November 6, 2009
Mercer County Family Court Judges Mary Ellen Griffith and Anthony Bisaha know one key to curbing adult crime rests in teaching troubled teens to be productive citizens. They, along with fellow Family Court Judge Lisa Clark, preside over Mercer County's Juvenile Drug Court, a program designed to keep youthful offenders out of detention while still pushing them away from the illegal substances that got them into legal trouble. Juvenile Drug Court, which accepts defendants ages 10-17, is built on the idea that drug-related crimes can be prevented if teens kick their drug habits while they're still young enough to plot a different future.

Foster Care

St. Joseph’s Villa summit to focus on at-risk youths
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, VA – November 3, 2009
A child who needs help all the way through school doesn't suddenly become independent just because he has graduated. A successful transition to adulthood requires some help, too. At a Youth Transition Summit tomorrow at St. Joseph's Villa in Henrico County, more than 225 professionals who work with at-risk youths will come together to hear Carmen James Lane, co-chair of the Youth Transition Funders Group.

Democrats Pose Health Bill Hurdle
The Wall Street Journal, Lafayette, LA – November 6, 2009
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu says she generally backs President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul efforts. But she'd like to see a few items in the bill before voting for it, including bigger federal Medicaid payments for her home state of Louisiana, extended health coverage for her pet cause of foster children, and help for teaching hospitals in her state. Some of her aims are more personal. Her husband, Frank Snellings, and their two children, Connor and Mary Shannon, are all adoptees, and she has made adoption and foster care a top cause. She wants to provide health coverage through age 24 for anyone who has been in foster care at least six months. "This is sort of a special issue for me," Ms. Landrieu said. Her staff said it can't calculate the provision's cost or number of people affected because some move in and out of the foster-care system and many are covered by other programs such as Medicaid.

Monday, November 02, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Durham Tech, DPS to target dropout
The Durham News, Durham, NC – October 28, 2009
Durham Technical Community College received a $300,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last week to work on a high school dropout recovery program. The college will partner with Durham Public Schools for "Gateway to College." The program gives high school dropouts a second chance to complete their high school diploma while also earning college credits.

Governor's dropout prevention commission incorporates local State Reps educational ideas
South Coast Today, New Bedford, MA – October 29, 2009
State Representatives Stephen R. Canessa (D-New Bedford) and John F. Quinn (D-Dartmouth) are encouraged by the recent release of the Massachusetts Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery Commission Report. The report outlines strategies for meeting the complex issues surrounding high school dropout rates, including raising the minimum age a student can withdraw from school from 16 years of age to 18 years, a long-time educational objective for both representatives. Working with the South Coast Education Compact, the representatives first filed legislation recognizing the contributing influence of the withdrawal age on high school dropout rates during the 2005-2006 legislative session.

Program helps dropouts graduate
The Omaha World-Herald, Omaha, NE – October 27, 2009
A phone call from someone at the Omaha Public Schools has helped about 60 students — nearly all of them former high school dropouts — try to get their education back on track. The district started a program this fall that allows district residents between the ages of 17 and 21 to return to school, on their own schedule and free of charge.

Juvenile Justice

Pennsylvania Overturns Many Youths’ Convictions
The New York Times, Pennsylvania – October 29, 2009
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday overturned thousands of juvenile-offender convictions handed down by a judge now charged in a corruption scandal. The judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, and Michael T. Conahan, a fellow judge who for a time was the chief of that court, are charged with taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from the owner of two privately run youth detention centers in exchange for their sending teenagers there.

New mental health program aimed at helping juveniles
The Courier, Mongomery County, AL – November 2, 2009
With around 40 percent of juvenile offenders in Montgomery County on some sort of psychotropic medication – such as antidepressants – officials believe a new mental health diversion program will get those young offenders the help they need.

Montgomery County’s Juvenile Probation Department, in collaboration with Tri-County Mental Health Mental Retardation, has started a program to ensure juvenile offenders with mental health issues get treatment and counseling, instead of detaining them, Director Ron Leach said.

Foster Care

After years in foster care, student plans career in social work
Columbus Local News, Columbus, OH – October 30, 2009
It's not where you start, it's where you finish, according to 19-year old Tabitha Bowen. Bowen, a sophomore at Ohio Dominican University majoring in social work, is keeping busy with her classes and her various activities on campus. She said she would like to use her degree in social work, once completed, to work as an international social worker. She is participating in the Casey Family Program, which is studying and researching what it is like to grow up in foster care, and will be attending its national conference Nov. 16-18 in Jacksonville, Fla.