Friday, December 18, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

Juvenile Justice

De-Criminalizing Children
The New York Times, New York, NY - December 17, 2009
As many as 150,000 children are sent to adult jails in this country every year — often in connection with nonviolent offenses or arrests that do not lead to conviction. That places them at risk of being raped or battered and increases the chance they will end up as career criminals. To fix this problem, Congress needs to properly reauthorize the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act of 1974, under which states agreed to humanize juvenile justice policies in exchange for more federal aid. This act was largely bypassed in the 1990s when unfounded fears of an adolescent crime wave reached hysterical levels.

Jailing juveniles, Sensible fixes to youth crime and delinquency policies

The Washington Post, Washington, DC - December 14, 2009

The Senate Judiciary Committee should embrace a bill scheduled for debate on Thursday that institutes needed reforms in how the nation deals with youth who run afoul of the law.
The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act does not impose federal strictures on state and local entities, but it provides funds for those that choose to comply with the legislation's guidelines. In this way, the Justice Department, which administers the act, can provide incentives to states to comply with what it considers best practices.

Senate Panel Reports Juvenile Justice Reauthorization Legislation
Press Release, Washington, DC - December 17, 2009
Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday reported bipartisan legislation to reauthorize expiring programs implemented to protect America’s youth. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act was introduced in March by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and senior Committee members Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.). The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act (JJDPA) is the result of more than a year of work among Senate leaders and advocacy groups. The provisions in the legislation will help state and local governments reduce crime and curb recidivism rates among juveniles by authorizing federal funding of prevention, intervention and treatment programs for youths. The bill reported Thursday aims to balance federal support for state programs while respecting the individual criminal justice policies of states.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Plainfield group works to restore park and teach dropouts vital skills
Star-Ledger, Plainfield, NJ – December 9, 2009
One Plainfield organization is trying to intervene with at-risk high school dropouts before they turn to gangs or drugs and teach them life skills with the hopes they will return to the classroom or enter the work force. This week, the Plainfield chapter of the New Jersey Youth Corps received a $25,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection trails grant to continue the service learning component of its program, an ongoing effort to beautify the city’s Green Brook Park.

Intervention program gives students a second chance
Longmont Times-Ledger, Longmont, CO – December 10, 2009
Lacey Freeman, 20, first enrolled in the Open Door program when she was 16. It didn’t stick. Because of problems at home, the Skyline High School dropout moved to Arizona to live with an aunt and worked at a grocery store. But at 19, she wanted something more. She moved back to Longmont and re-entered in Open Door before enrolling at Olde Columbine High School. This May, she graduated valedictorian of Olde Columbine.

Juvenile Justice

At-risk kids gain friends in mentors at CSUS
The Modesto Bee, Turlock, CA – December 14, 2009
It started as a semesterlong assignment that many weren't really thrilled about completing. But as their class obligation drew to a close this month, several California State University, Stanislaus, students planned to continue meeting with the young people they mentored. About 75 juvenile justice students participated in the university's mentoring program, in its fifth year. They met, usually weekly, with at-risk students ranging from elementary to high school at 10 Turlock Unified School District campuses.

Goodwill grant to help at-risk teens

Cape Coral Daily Breeze, Florida – December 12, 2009

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida was a recent benefactor of federal stimulus dollars to help mentor at-risk teens. The federal government awarded Goodwill International $19 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Kirsten O'Donnell, director of public relations, said that amount was split among 56 Goodwill stores nationwide. The overall grant to Goodwill came from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Foster Care

Aging Out of Foster Care
CBS 7, Midland, TX – December 8, 2009
Foster families who have an 18 year old in their care can now help them until the age of 21. Watching Daniela Ontiveros at work you wouldn't know that her life up until now has been a tough journey. A youth specialist with Child Protective Services, Daniela says she sees herself in those she helps and hopes that her life will be a shining example of brighter days. In order to receive care until the age of 21 the foster child must be enrolled in a GED program, college, or trade school.

Local Homeless Kids Are Getting Involved in Their Own Solutions
The Watch, Montrose, CA – December 9, 2009
Brandi Mason knows what it’s like to be a runaway, to grow up in the foster care system, to be homeless. She’s been all three. She’s been a foster child since the age of three, but Mason, now 17, plans to become an attorney who represents kids like herself, kids whose troubles started through no fault of their own, and who often end up on their own. As she prepares to take college entrance exams next year, Mason is already working to solve the problems of homeless kids in Montrose County.

Cakes for Cause: Baking to Benefit Foster Care Youth, Frederick, MD – December 9, 2009
Cakes are often in celebration of a birthday or wedding, but one Frederick organization is hoping to turn a person's love of sweets into a greater commitment to youth in the community. If you mix one pound of purpose and add two cups of care, you've got an organization called Cakes for Cause. Their mission: to help youth who have aged out of the foster care system. Christina Quinn is their newest apprentice. She spent two years in foster care before being adopted at age 10.

Monday, December 07, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Efforts under way to stem U.S. school dropout problem
Reuters, Chicago, IL – December 2, 2009
Jesus Garcia dropped out of high school and figured he was destined for prison or a life shortened by violence -- until he found an alternative school that became the family he never felt he had. "Without this school, kids would be dealing drugs, dying, gang-banging, all of it. Without this school there would be no leaders, no mentors," Garcia, an aspiring chef, told a group of former dropouts who have re-enrolled in alternative schools.

Program works to curb number of high school dropouts
Ledger-Enquirer, LaGrange, GA – December 3, 2009
Inside Callaway Middle School a group of about a dozen students, whether they like it or not, are focused on Reggie Beaty, a former high school dropout but more recently known throughout Georgia for his dropout prevention work. Beaty and his business partner, Tony Owens, are leading the group of Callaway students in a Faces of Change lesson. The Faces of Change curriculum, developed by the two through their business Foundation for Educational Success, is geared toward keeping at-risk students in school through critical thinking skills. It is used across the state including at the high school level in Muscogee County, but is new to the Troup County school system this year.

Taking aim at dropout rate
The Salem News, Salem, OR – November 30, 2009
Carlos Almonte failed four of his eight classes in his junior year, so the likelihood of graduating from Salem High this coming spring was dim. "Graduation didn't seem like something I'd be able to achieve," said Carlos, 17. Now, however, he is earning credits and getting back on track to graduate with his class, thanks to a new program aimed at lowering the high school dropout rate and helping students graduate on time. He is one of 75 students who have participated in an online course-work program in which students can recover credits by retaking an array of courses, all from a computer lab on the ground floor of Salem High School.

Juvenile Justice

Teens get their day in court
The State Journal, Frankfort, KY – December 1, 2009
The prosecutor was ready to throw the book at the defendant, calling her a thief and demanding that she repay her debt to society with 45 hours of community service. The pugnacious attorney in this case wasn’t Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland. It was 14-year-old Logan Patterson, a Western Hills freshman and one of 29 high school students participating in Franklin County Teen Court. Patterson and others – including the defendant, 15-year-old Katie Jackson, also a Western Hills freshman – made up the alternative juvenile justice system sworn in by Franklin County district judges Kathy Mangeot and Chris Olds at the courthouse Monday. The students gave the audience – primarily parents and siblings – a glimpse of the program with a mock trial before they were sworn in. It’s designed to give first-time offenders of non-violent crimes between 10 and 17 a chance to learn from their mistakes and make amends, local law officials involved with the program say.

Program from district attorney's office aims to get kids on right path
Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL – December 5, 2009
A letter from the District Attorney's Office usually gets people's attention. It also helps to reduce disciplinary infractions like fighting; assaults and disruptive demonstrations, according to officials of The Helping Montgomery Families Initiative Program -- a satellite agency of the Montgomery County District Attorney's office. HMFI is a program that focuses on early intervention for at-risk students who have received suspensions in Montgomery Public Schools, said program director Sandra Edwards. The focus in on serious infractions, including threats and intimidation, assaults, criminal mischief, disruptive demonstrations, fighting, disorderly conduct and harassment, she said.

Foster Care

When reality sinks in: THP-Plus program offers guidance to former foster children
The Union, Nevada County, CA – December 3, 2009
It's called emancipation, but for many foster children who age out of the system at 18 or 19, that “freedom from slavery” is more like being thrown into the deep end. Each year in California, approximately 4,200 young adults exit foster care when they turn 18. Deemed to be adults by the state, many end up couch surfing or living in their cars, unable to find stable employment or decent living situations. “Who's ready (to be an adult) at 18?” asked Kerri Fulton, program coordinator for Nevada County's foster youth independent living program. Fulton works with foster youths ages 16 to 21, helping them make that crucial transition to life after foster care. The biggest gap, she said, is housing — and two local nonprofits are aiming to close that gap through a state-funded transitional housing program.

Two teens achieve support, independence with help from holiday fund
The Star-Ledger, New Jersey – December 1, 2009
Other 18-year-olds want independence from their parents. Jerome wants a break with his past as a foster child. But none of his foster families ever talked to him about money management. None helped him develop job skills. He’d lived in many different homes, but never learned to keep one. Aging out of foster care wouldn’t leave him independent. Just alone. Thanks to the Family Service Bureau of Newark, aided by the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, Jerome is not alone. Through the program, Jerome has been connected with resources, has received bus tickets and food, and has gained help finding a residential facility that will help him make the transition to life as an adult.


Youth employment program receives federal money to aid would-be workers in Pennsylvania
The Patriot-News, Pennsylvania – December 1, 2009
The Summer Youth Employment Program, funded in Pennsylvania through $43.5 million in federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act money, helped 9,200 disadvantaged youths get first jobs last summer. Program directors hope to help just as many next summer. They shared what they have learned at the Youth Services Academy this week run by PA Partners at the Grantville Holiday Inn. The two-day conference is designed for professionals in workplace development.