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.

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