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.

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