Monday, December 20, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


NPR, Central Falls, RI – December 16, 2010
We've been hearing a lot about high school dropouts because of a flurry of studies and reports that offer dire warnings about the drag dropouts can be on the economy and the nation's future. But if you want to understand why a million kids drop out of school every year, all you have to do is ask them — which is what NPR's Claudio Sanchez did as part of a recent reporting assignment to Central Falls Rhode Island.

Aurora Sentinel, Aurora, CO – December 16, 2010
Playing video games and lounging around the house after school are passé time-killers for middle-schooler Jamall Newbern.  On most days, Newbern, 12, prefers to stay at school for an extra two hours to learn about computers, kick around a soccer ball or practice his science skills at East Middle School’s after-school enrichment program. “It’s really fun because I get to hang out with all my friends and make some new ones,” said Newbern, who is one of about 100 students from East Middle School who participate in the COMPASS program. COMPASS, or Coalition of Many Providing After School Success, is offered at seven schools within the Aurora Public Schools system and one of the reasons Aurora was recently named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People. The 100 Best Communities for Young People award recognizes communities that have launched community-wide efforts to improve the well-being of young people and address the nation’s dropout crisis.

The Sacramento Bee, California – December 19, 2010
Rocklin's Victory High School and Truckee's Sierra High School have been named two of the state's model continuation schools.  The campuses made a list – released last week by state Superintendent Jack O'Connell – of 27 continuation schools that should serve as models to the rest of the state for their programs to help struggling students stay in school.
Times-Herald, California – December 15, 2010
We asked our nearly 6,000 Facebook fans and friends: Vallejo's public high school dropout rate is now nearing 50 percent, according to state figures. What do YOU think should be done to turn that around? Here are their edited responses:
Sara Foley: What do you think the percentage is going to be once Hogan closes? It's gonna be worse and I guarantee that there will be more crime and more dropouts then ever before!
Nadee Dagupan: Parents, students, teachers rally up students first!
Author Rhachelle Nicol: Pursuing the American Dream has cost us our families and values. I was born and raised in Vallejo when it was still considered a town. There was a strong sense of community among families, neighbors and each other's children. Our communities are supposed to bring accountability, no one is holding each other accountable. Parents blame teachers, teachers blame parents but no one is doing anything to work together. All it takes is one teacher and a parent to knock on a door and show their commitment and hold each other accountable for the future of our children.

Juvenile Justice

KABC-TV, Los Angeles, CA – December 14, 2010
Dozens of demonstrators started a 50-mile march Monday, calling for reforms in education and juvenile justice systems.  The marchers left the juvenile hall in Sylmar and they planned many stops along the way to their final destination on Thursday, which will be at the Division of Juvenile Justice in Norwalk.  They are trying to raise awareness of the problems faced by students who are forced out of school for breaking the rules.

Concord Monitor, Concord, NH – December 19, 2010
The recent controversy about the operation of the Sununu Youth Services Center threatens to distract us from the real issues facing the New Hampshire juvenile justice system. If we are to address the immediate challenges facing the system and protect the long-term interests of our children and communities, we must begin with a few basic questions: Who should be confined at the Sununu Center? How long do we need to keep them there? And how can we use diminishing resources to meet the needs of court-involved children and keep our communities safe? We are confining too many kids for minor crimes, keeping them too long and using our resources unwisely in the process.

The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, PA – December 16, 2010
In the first meeting of its kind, Juvenile Justice Task Force members urged school personnel Wednesday to work hand-in-hand with them in the ongoing effort to remedy the “kids-for-cash” scandal in Luzerne County. “(The juvenile justice) system is at a very different point than it was two years ago, or even one year ago,” District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll said at the meeting held at Wilkes University, adding she feels the county is becoming a model for the state. Part of that model, Musto Carroll explained, is the formation of a youth aid panel, which would consist of three to five community volunteers and will be organized by newly hired former Hazleton Area teacher Bob Stevens.

Foster Care

Standard-Examiner, Ogden, UT – December 11, 2010
They both like Coca-Cola over Pepsi, and are avid readers.  “We both like Lady Gaga,” Bree said. “Some of her songs, not all of them.”  “We like some of her outfits, not all of them,” Catherine adds during a recent lunch.  They also share a love of horror movies.  “Despite what movie reviewers might want to hear after ‘Resident Evil 4,’ obviously there is going to be a ‘Resident Evil 5,’ ” said Catherine.  “She likes horror movies and listens to rock, not country or opera,” said Bree, who then brings up Ozzie Osbourne. “When he talks, you can’t understand him, but he can still sing the lyrics to his songs.”  “Bree’s introduced me to things I wouldn’t have experienced,” Catherine said.  Bree is an 18-year-old “aging out” of state-run foster care; Catherine Conklin is a 2nd District Court commissioner, a judgeship presiding over divorces and protective orders, among other things.  They came together when matched in July under the Mentor Connection program.

News-Press, Florida – December 13, 2010
The Department of Children and Families is pulling together a proposal that could extend foster care to age 21.  Care now ends at 18, and many former foster children grapple with early pregnancy, homelessness and unemployment.  Some young adults are pushed to live on their own before they have been able to earn driver’s licenses or high school diplomas.

The Florida Times-Union, Florida – December 17, 2010
For the first time in a long time, Jenette Bartley can't stop smiling.  Bartley aged out of foster care two years ago, after many years of bouncing around and running away. She recently got her GED, an achievement she is the first in her extended family to reach. And on Thursday, the 20-year-old mother of two earned a certificate of completion for a 15-week certified nursing assistant program, an accomplishment that she hopes will open new doors for a job.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The Boston Globe, Concord, NH – December 12, 2010
New Hampshire wants its youth to graduate from high school -- whether they are in school, in jail or homeless.  Teachers, students, administrators and others will gather in Concord on Monday to discuss strategies to reduce the state's already low dropout rate.  Gov. John Lynch is responsible for the Governor's Third New Hampshire Summit on High School Graduation. Lynch has made reducing the dropout rate a high priority of his administration and was behind a law that took effect last year that raised the compulsory education age from 16 to 18, giving all students the chance to graduate from high school.

Dropout rate for blacks doesn't tell full story
San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland, CA – December 10, 2010
The recent figures released by the state Department of Education, which show a statewide public high school dropout rate of 37 percent among African American students, is a symptom of a broader social malaise and not an accurate measure of one group's performance.  Because when you hear some of the stories of children living in big city, high-crime neighborhoods, you come to understand that steering clear of troubled streets is in itself a full-time job.

Detroit Free Press, Michigan – December 11, 2010
Two years ago, southeast Michigan had 30 failing high schools -- schools where fewer than six in 10 freshmen went on to graduate. Today, that number is down to 22, the United Way says. Some poor schools have closed, and five schools are showing the promise of a turnaround through a United Way program that breaks them into small academies.  On Friday, General Motors jumped into the effort, announcing that it would pump $27.1 million over the next five years into the project to transform five yet-to-be-selected metro Detroit high schools, along with centers nearby to prepare children for kindergarten.

Juvenile Justice

WIBW, Washington, DC – December 9, 2010
More than 250 youth, parents and advocates descended on the nation’s capital this weekend to launch this week's "National Juvenile Justice Week of Action," declaring in a unified voice that the U.S. juvenile justice system is unaccountable, expensive, and unsafe – and that Congress and the Obama Administration need to pass legislation that protects children.

Public News Service, California – December 6, 2010
Young people who have made some wrong decisions in the past now need adults to make some right decisions. Hundreds of youth from California and other states are in the nation's capital today to urge Congress and President Obama to pass legislation that they say protects children. Tshaka Barrows, with California's Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY), says they're supporting the Youth PROMISE (Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education) Act.

Foster Care

The Boston Globe – December 9, 2010
Since she aged out of foster care three years ago, Kaila Dunn has lived in more homeless shelters than she can recall, often dingy dwellings full of drunken men, rampant drug use, and too many people seeking to take advantage of her. “It’s really scary and lonely to be in a place with so many creepy adults with so many issues,’’ she said.  The 21-year-old high school dropout from Randolph is among what city, state, and federal officials say is a rising number of homeless youths and young adults. Every year, tens of thousands of them become too old to remain in state custody or land on the streets because of broken families.

Contra Costa Times, Hollywood, CA – December 12, 2010
The long white van with tinted windows crawls to a stop off a Hollywood street one night, luring those too old to be called children but too young to care about 401(k)s.  What comes from inside the vehicle brightens otherwise slack-jawed expressions on sallow faces: free peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, bottled water and, if the private donations have come through, underwear, socks and toothpaste.  On a recent cold evening, the homeless youths who live on Hollywood's streets are forgoing food for anything that brings them warmth., Tucson, AZ – December 9, 2010
A local non-profit called "In my Shoes" which is a part of the Arizona Children Association launched a campaign Wednesday in search of mentors for teens in 'out of home' care.  The campaign is called "Will You Be There." The goal is to match mentors who have been through foster care with teens currently living outside of home care. "Many of children age out of foster care without a forever family so when you think about birthdays, holidays, support getting through college, it's generally not there."

Monday, December 06, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The New York Times – November 30, 2010
The nation’s high school graduation rate, which declined in the latter part of the 20th century, may have hit bottom and begun to rise, according to a report to be issued Tuesday by a nonprofit group founded by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. “The United States is turning a corner in meeting the high school dropout epidemic,” General Powell and his wife, Alma J. Powell, wrote in a letter introducing the report.

Tennessean, Rutherford County, TN – December 2, 2010
Strategies to get high school students to graduate on time like those implemented by the Rutherford County seem to be working. Don Odom, assistant superintendent of instruction and curriculum for Rutherford County Schools, said in 2009 Rutherford County's graduation rate was 91.3 percent, compared to the state's rate of 83.2 percent, according to the state report card. Four years prior, the state's rate was 77.9 percent, while the county's rate was 88.1 percent.

The New York Times, Baltimore, MD – December 1, 2010
For years, this city had one of the worst school systems in the country. Fewer than half its students graduated, enrollment had fallen precipitously and proficiency levels were far below the national average.  In 2007, the school board hired Andres Alonso, a Cuban immigrant with a Harvard degree and strong views on how to change things. In three years, he pushed through a sweeping reorganization of the school system, closing failing schools, slashing the central office staff by a third and replacing three-quarters of all school principals.

Juvenile Justice

The Washington Post, District of Columbia – November 30, 2010
In an effort to keep serious school misbehavior from spiraling into even more serious juvenile delinquency, the law school at the University of the District of Columbia is taking up cases of public school students who have been suspended for weeks or months.  Hundreds of D.C. public school students are suspended every year for periods of up to 90 days. Critics of the practice say that far from encouraging better behavior, the suspensions often open the door to more trouble.

Kane County Chronicle, Kane County, IL – December 1, 2010
A recent inspection of the Kane County Juvenile Detention Center by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice listed seven areas of improvement.  The detention center’s assistant superintendent, Amy Sierra, has been with the center for 19 years and was promoted to her new position in February. She said she has seen improvements over the last year that she credits to a new approach to dealing with youths.  “I think we focus a lot more on training now,” Sierra said. “Punishing them does not always work.”

The Gadsden Times, Alabama – November 29, 2010
Alabama is changing the way juvenile justice and detention operates and The Bridge, which operates an adolescent drug and alcohol treatment facility in Gadsden, has developed programs that some officials are saying should be adopted for use throughout the state. “We're leading the way in the state, really, in the way the way things are shaped,” said Terry Schrimscher, director of marketing for The Bridge.

Foster Care

Public News Service, Minneapolis, MN – November 30, 2010
The transition to adulthood can be a bumpy road for young people, and family support is often a critical lifeline. But for foster kids who have aged out of the system, the transition is even harder, as many lack the skills needed to make the jump to adulthood. A recent study from the University of Chicago suggests that extending foster care, or providing additional support until age 21, helps aid the transition, and one Minnesota program is doing exactly that. The Division of Indian Work's Healthy Transitions program teaches a range of life skills such as resume building and job hunting, applying for college, and apartment hunting.

Tallahassee Democrat, Florida – November 30, 2010
The Department of Children and Families has launched an initiative focusing on the educational needs of children in the state's care. Foster children tend to have a lot on their minds. School can easily become second priority. They often have the burden of worrying about court dates, life on their own or where they are going to get their next meal, said DCF Circuit 2 Operations Administrator Traci Leavine.

Central Florida Future, Orlando, FL – December 5, 2010
Last year, while some students went home to celebrate the holidays with their families, one UCF student, still in Orlando, found herself sleeping on four different couches. As this holiday season nears, she's still not sure what her plans will be. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, there are currently 423,773 foster youths in the U.S.; junior advertising and public relations major Tara Dinoski is one of them. Dinoski was 14 when her mother's parenting rights were terminated when she tried to commit suicide in front of Dinoski and her brothers, who were ages 5 and 3. Today, Dinoski is a student with a mission: She wants to help foster students succeed in college and encourage foster youths to do so. This led her to create Golden Hearts at UCF, a student organization dedicated to raise awareness about foster care and build a family-like support group for former foster students, international students and students from broken homes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The Sun, San Bernardino, CA – November 26, 2010
Karla Antunez has only just begun her studies at San Gorgonio High School, but her father is already looking ahead to her graduation date.  To ensure she and other area students get there, Jorge Antunez and other parents involved with Inland Congregations United for Change have embarked on an effort to improve graduation rates in the San Bernardino City Unified School District.  "Little by little the dropout rate in the district is decreasing, but there are still a lot of dropouts, so I want to make sure my daughter graduates and gets a career," he said.  

USA Today – November 26, 2010
A growing network of online classes is giving thousands of high school students a second or third chance to pass courses they need to graduate, from algebra and history to health and physical education.  The classes are part of a widening phenomenon called credit recovery — a term that sounds more about erasing debt than advancing education but actually enables troubled students to get credit for classes they've previously failed or didn't complete.

The Salem News, Salem, OR – November 23, 2010
A public charter school would help the city better meet the needs of a significant but hard-to-reach group — high school dropouts and at-risk students — community leaders told a state commission yesterday.  Advocates for the Salem Community Charter School touted the opportunities the new program would provide to a student group struggling to achieve under traditional teaching models.

The Wall Street Journal, Albany, NY – November 27, 2010
A report commissioned by the state's Office of Children and Family Services says hauling parents into family court is not the best way to combat a rising tide of kids who chronically miss school.  In New York City, "chronic absenteeism" — when a student misses at least 20 of the 180 days in a school year — afflicts 40 percent of high school students and educators currently refer cases to social services for neglect.  "I've talked to a lot of principals on this," said Kim Nauer, who researched the city's statistics. "Schools call in these child protective services reports because they're frustrated with the families and their inability to get these kids to school."  Under New York law, chronic school absence is a trigger for complaints to the Office of Children and Family Services. Referrals can lead to family court, foster care or probation-like PINS supervision.

Juvenile Justice

Correctional News, Washington, DC – November 24, 2010
The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice released its annual report calling for various reforms to the juvenile justice system in the United States.  The FACJJ Annual Report 2010 is distributed to members of congress and the executive branch providing recommendations as to the federal government’s role in the juvenile justice system, which falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which oversees the committee. FACJJ members are made up if juvenile justice professionals from every state.
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL – November 26, 2010
When a Jacksonville mother signed her 16-year-old son up for a program aimed at keeping lawbreaking juveniles from having a criminal future, his reaction was uplifting, she said.  At the time, Gregory Glover was being held in the Hastings Youth Academy on a 14-month sentence for battery on a school resource officer.  "I know this is a good program because I saw a light go on in him," Jodi D. Glover recalled.

Foster Care

Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska – November 27, 2010
Her job title is youth navigator, but Beth Croston Hansen doesn’t use an atlas. She helps youths turning 19 progress to independent living as they become too old for Nebraska’s foster care system.  “The goal of this program is to help them make the transition after aging out of foster care. My job mainly is to get them hooked up with medical care,” Croston Hansen said.  She does that through her job at OneWorld Community Health Centers, 4920 S. 30th St., in the Livestock Exchange Building.  Last year, 208 children in Nebraska aged out of foster care. Four of them returned to their families, and the other 204 began to live on their own, according to statistics from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

The Times Leader, Harrisburg, PA – November 26, 2010
Gov. Ed Rendell signed into law Wednesday legislation authored by state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston, to protect the rights of foster children.  Act No. 119, known as the Children in Foster Care Act, addresses the basic needs that weigh greatly in a child’s quality of life.  They include: the right to live in a safe and healthy home; access to routine medical care; access to a quality education; access to life-skills training and services to ease the transition to adulthood; and freedom from harassment, corporal punishment, unreasonable restraint, and physical, sexual, emotional and other abuse.

The Oakland Tribune, Richmond, VA – November 24, 2010
Growing up surrounded by violence and drugs, suffering abuse and moving from home to home, Adrian Morris was more preoccupied with surviving than doing well in school.  The Richmond girl's mother dealt with addiction, and her father was in and out of jail. For several years, Morris and her sister bounced between relatives' homes, then were removed to foster care when Morris was 10. For the next eight years, Morris made her way through a half-dozen foster homes, always trying to get by. "It was really hard," she said. "You had drugs and prostitution around you, and on top of that you have to go to school. I didn't really pay attention in my classes. I didn't care about myself at all."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


CBS 4 Denver, Cheyenne, WY – November 19, 2010
Officials at a Wyoming National Guard program that helps high school dropouts get back on track with six months of exercise, coursework and community service literally have been knocking on doors to recruit new cadets.  Wyoming Youth ChalleNGe officials say their efforts are paying off.  The voluntary program at Camp Guernsey in southeast Wyoming has been averaging just 30 to 40 cadets since it was started in Wyoming in 2006. Twenty-three are enrolled in the fall class and preparing to graduate Dec. 11.

Twin Cities Daily Planet, Minneapolis, MN – November 20, 2010
Deneazra Burns wants to "break stereotypes" about teen moms: teen moms are not all high school dropouts and don't become pregnant to get attention. They're just trying to finish school and do well for themselves and their child.  Burns attends Broadway High School in Minneapolis, an alternative high school devoted to pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers finishing their high school education. It also emphasizes the importance of mother-child relationships with morning childcare lessons and day care facilities.

The Boston Globe, Brockton, MA – November 21, 2010
The air conditioning was a sign of things to come. At 548,000 square feet, as large as a small aircraft carrier, Brockton High School had every modern convenience when its newest building opened in 1970. It was also plagued by low test scores and a high dropout rate. But as Brockton High celebrates its 40th anniversary, the students’ performance has caught up to the state-of-the-art facilities. The 4,400 students hail from more than 50 countries; more than one-third speak a language other than English at home; and 70 percent come from low-income households. Yet Brockton High has been designated a model school by The International Center for Leadership in Education for seven straight years. The school made US News & World Report’s list of America’s best high schools in 2007 and 2009, and has been the subject of recent glowing reports by The New York Times and CBS Evening News.  The key, said Anna Bradfield, Bridgewater State University’s dean of education and allied learning, is the cooperation of the school administration, teachers, parents, students, and the community at large.  Brockton, like other lower-income cities, faces distinctive challenges such as latchkey kids who are alone most of the time because a parent may be working extra jobs, or perhaps struggling with drugs and alcohol.  The answer lies in wrap-around services outside of school hours.

Juvenile Justice

State applauds Kane Juvenile Justice Center
Geneva Sun, Kane County, IL – November 19, 2010
The Kane County Juvenile Justice Center has received high praise from the state.  The St. Charles Township-based facility complies with all juvenile justice standards and has made several improvements since last year, an annual inspection report said.  In addition, the report praised Rick Anselme, superintendent of the facility, for his team’s ability to keep residents — who can be volatile and have a propensity to become violent — engaged in programs and out of segregated confinement.

DA plans student outreach program
Citizens Voice, Luzerne County, PA – November 18, 2010
Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll will debut an educational outreach program aimed at junior high school students next week in Nanticoke, her office said Tuesday.  Musto Carroll, a member of the Juvenile Justice Task Force formed in the wake of the Luzerne County "kids-for-cash" scandal, will speak to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders on Monday at the Greater Nanticoke Area High School.  The program, marketed as 2Smart4Trbl, is designed to dispel myths and misinformation about delinquent acts while educating youth about the juvenile justice system and the ramifications of illegal activity.

Florence teens learn life skills at youth summit
WMBF News, Florence, SC – November 20, 2010
While most kids spend their Saturday mornings sleeping in, teens in the Pee Dee got up bright and early to attend a summit that aims to empower South Carolina's youth.  The 5th Annual Village at Work Youth Empowerment Summit was held at the Florence Civic Center Saturday morning. This was the first time it was held in the Pee Dee Region in the history of the event.  The summit is a product of The Community DMC Reduction Project, an initiative of the Children's Law Center of the University of South Carolina.  It seeks to promote alternatives to the use of detention centers for non-violent minority youth groups.

Foster Care

Helping foster teens transition to adulthood
Miami Herald, Miami Dade County, FL – November 19, 2010
M.A.P.S., short for "Mentor, Attorney and Peer Support,'' is a program that brings together the nonprofit group Lawyers For Children America and former foster care youth to provide advocacy and mentoring to current foster teens who will soon age out of the system.  The law firm of Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod recently welcomed new M.A.P.S. participants and generously donated computers to all of the foster teens who are currently involved in the project. These computers will enable recipients to conduct research, navigate the Internet, complete school assignments and build additional skill sets that will assist them in future career planning.

The Good Samaritan Boys Ranch Opens New Living Facility
KSMU NPR Public Radio, Missouri – November 16, 2010
The Good Samaritan Boys Ranch opened a brand new home for boys on Tuesday morning, marking the first phase in their development of a new campus. Justin Lux has the report.  The boy’s ranch oversees the Footsteps Transitional Living program. Many of the boys here are aging out of the foster care system.  For 20-year old Josh Snyder, the transitional living program has been an absolute blessing.

On Their Own: Aging out of Foster Care
KWCH News, Wichita, KS – November 15, 2010
At age 18, you may be considered an adult but that doesn't mean you're ready to be on your own. For hundreds of Kansans, that doesn't matter. They age out of foster care and it's up to them to follow through getting help. We introduce you to two area teens trying to make it on their own.  Everybody has a story and for some Kansas kids the early chapters are not pretty. "My mom smoked crack, drank and smoked pot every day she was pregnant with me," said former foster child Modia Evans. "There wasn't any safe place for me," another former foster child Jonathan Miller.  The themes of Miller and Evans' stories are similar, both grew up without their parents. Evans bounced between extended family until entering foster care at age 17. "I was living like a foster kid before I got into the system," she said. Miller entered the foster care system at age three. "Obviously I hated foster care and I didn't want to be in it," Miller said.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The Indianapolis Star, Marion County, IN – November 14, 2010
Jamie Pittman is used to conducting job interviews. She's the director of nursing at The Indiana Heart Hospital.  But on this day, as she asked a young man that classic interview question, "Tell me about a time you made a mistake and what you learned from it," the answer was a shocker. Pittman is a volunteer who twice a month takes a break from her busy workday to mentor at-risk students.

The Huffington Post, New Haven, CT – November 9, 2010
New Haven officials have unveiled New Haven Promise, a new program that grants college tuition to qualifying public and charter high school students.  In order to be applicable for free college tuition dollars to any public college or university in the state, high school students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and have a 90 percent attendance rate.

Ventura County Star – November 13, 2010
To build long-term strength as a nation, we need to recognize that our greatest asset is our children and act accordingly. Ensuring their success means a vibrant country of strength. Yet, a sustainable nation with high quality of life is threatened by our most precious asset dropping out of school. Thirty percent of all of America’s high-school students fail to graduate on time, and worse, nearly half of African-American and Latino males never graduate.

Juvenile Justice

San Francisco Chronicle – November 10, 2010
What does it say about our criminal "justice" system when the seemingly just verdict and sentencing of Johannes Mehserle to two years for involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting Oscar Grant is met with violent protests? It reflects the reality that significant portions of our society - impoverished African Americans and Latinos - face discrimination in a racist justice system that no one seems interested in fixing. The Coalition for Juvenile Justice, a federally funded panel examining the reasons for the disproportionate incarceration rates, found "youth of color receive harsher sanctions than their white counterparts at every stage of the juvenile court system, from the point of surveillance (including racial profiling) to disposition/trial, sentencing, and incarceration." In California, the Drug Policy Alliance found that in 25 of the state's biggest counties, African American youth are arrested at three and sometimes four times the rates of white youth for pot possession, despite evidence that young African Americans use pot less than young whites. Studies also show that adult non-white offenders are arrested more, sentenced more and serve longer sentences than their white counterparts for the same crimes.

The Baltimore Sun – November 13, 2010
Four years ago, Darren Farmer's day started at noon and ended at 3 a.m. on a drug-riddled street corner.  The 16-year-old had walked away from Frederick Douglass High School, one of nearly 3,000 city students to drop out that year, because he "just felt as though I had no need for school if I couldn't make money." Dealing drugs filled his pockets with cash.  Soon, Farmer was arrested on drug and handgun charges and was incarcerated for two years. But this fall, he re-entered the city school system and is on his way to obtaining a high school diploma — a face behind the encouraging statistics that many say show that Baltimore is moving in the right direction.

The Florida-Times Union, Duval County, FL – November 11, 2010
A $9 million, six-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will help Duval County establish a system of mental health care for children and youth.  The grant will focus initially on children in foster care and the juvenile justice system, homeless children, as well as young, high-risk children in challenged neighborhoods.

Foster Care

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, VA – November 9, 2010
Before this year, you wouldn't have heard Kivon Matthews, 16, talking about foods like that, much less cooking with them.  Now she has expanded her horizons in a new culinary program at Charterhouse Day School at UMFS (United Methodist Family Services), part of an expansion that more than doubled the school's space and increased enrollment by more than half.  "We cook things we didn't know about before," Matthews said. She added that even if nonculinary student Chris Martin, 15, turned up his nose at anything involving olive oil, she liked it.  When the school's new space is celebrated today on the UMFS grounds with a keynote speech by Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, an open house will feature dishes prepared by Matthews and others in the new culinary program.

Des Moines Register, Iowa – November 11, 2010
Eighty balloons – each representing 100 Iowa children currently in foster care - were released locally Nov. 6 to honor and raise awareness for Iowa children waiting to be adopted.  Iowa KidsNet, the statewide collaboration of agencies that recruits, trains, licenses and supports all of Iowa’s foster and foster adoptive parents, planned the statewide balloon release at nearly 20 locations across Iowa, including Class Act Production Theatre in Altoona and Berean Assembly of God in Pleasant Hill.  Each site released 40 biodegradable balloons; one balloon represented approximately 100 children in foster care, shelter care or group care in Iowa on any given day.  Angela Albers, who this year launched Dropz of Hope — a nonprofit foster parent support organization — organized the Pleasant Hill release.

Monday, November 08, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The New York Times, Houston, TX – November 5, 2010
Brett Rusnock can follow his students’ every move on his laptop: how much time they spend on computers each day at Waltrip High School in Houston, their scores on quizzes and when they stop working. He even gets e-mail alerts when they toil at home into the wee hours. “I can play Big Brother a little bit with this,” Mr. Rusnock said. Mr. Rusnock is not a teacher. He is a grad coach, one of 27 in Houston monitoring thousands of students who take so called credit-recovery courses online. Like many other districts across the state, particularly those with high dropout rates, the Houston Independent School District offers these self-paced make-ups to any student who fails a class.
The Huffington Post, Indianapolis, IN – November 5, 2010
Indianapolis' Excel Center set its enrollment at 200 students when it opened its doors this fall to give high school dropouts another opportunity to earn a diploma, reports Take Part. Just months later, more than 800 people are eagerly waiting to get in. A charter school funded partly by Goodwill Education Initiatives, the Excel Center focuses on dropout recovery, rather than prevention. In a city with one of the highest dropout rates in the country, the Excel Center has honed its strategy, encouraging students to earn diplomas instead of GEDs.

Fox 10 TV, Mobile County, AL – November 5, 2010
Here's a startling statistic for you, nearly half of all Mobile County Public School students will drop out. The superintendent said by the third grade, some teachers can pin point students at risk.  Brooke Sellers was close to dropping out of school.  The 18-year-old said school wasn't for her, so she started looking for jobs.  Instead of landing in the world of nine to five, she landed in a Drop Back in Program.

Juvenile Justice

The Palm Beach Post News, Palm Beach County, FL – November 1, 2010
For many youthful offenders, getting arrested means guaranteed time in a juvenile detention center to wait for a hearing or trial.  Elise Johansen, director of Youth Enrichment Services at Gulfstream Goodwill, says she's seen incarceration too often turn teens with a chance to correct their wrongs into repeat offenders who end up spending years in the system.  But now Johansen and others at Goodwill are hoping an alternative program they began last month in Palm Beach County will keep some of those borderline teens out of jail. It could even help some of them figure out whether undiagnosed mental or behavioral issues contributed to their choices.

Reforms OKd at LA County juvenile detention school
San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles County, CA – November 4, 2010
Education at Los Angeles County's biggest juvenile detention center will be overhauled by a team of national experts under the terms of a legal settlement announced Thursday.  The county Probation Department and Office of Education have agreed to completely revamp the high school at the county's Challenger Memorial Youth Center, which comprises six camps in Lancaster, said the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.  Calling Challenger a "hellish place" and the "black hole of Los Angeles' juvenile justice system," ACLU Chief Counsel Mark Rosenbaum said the settlement will boost the youthful inmates' chances at rehabilitation over recidivism.

The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, IN – November 2, 2010
Kids who have gotten into trouble with the law and spent time behind bars aren't exactly poster children for today's youths, says Indiana Juvenile Justice Task Force head Bill Glick.  They have trouble finding jobs. They often lack education. Many of them end up back in prison.  But Glick and supporters of the Indianapolis-based statewide agency think youngsters who have been through the juvenile justice system need a helping hand despite reductions in taxpayer support over the years. Doing so, they say, can help the state save money in the long run.

Foster Care

Youth Today, Hawaii – November 5, 2010
The suicide of a teenager shortly after aging out of foster care has ignited a public debate in Hawaii about the struggles of older foster kids, and prompted the state to take the rare step of making the youth’s case files public.  The hanging death of Erwin Celes in September, six months after he emancipated from foster care, set off a phenomenon that in some ways is typical – with state child welfare officials disputing accusations of failure from youth advocates and lawmakers – but which stands out because the victim was not a young child, but a teen who was no longer in the system. The emotional public discussion, including heavy media coverage and a state legislative hearing, comes amid a national movement toward expanding services for older foster youth.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, VA – November 7, 2010
International and national events during the past year have heightened public awareness about adoption, sometimes exacerbating misconceptions or distracting the public from the fact that across the United States there are children waiting today to be adopted. In Virginia alone, 1,500 are available for adoption out of the public foster care system. Virginia has been making positive strides in finding adoptive families for foster care children. The commonwealth has, for example, instituted a range of services to prevent children from entering foster care in the first place. As a result, Virginia has one of the lowest rates of children in the system. However, great challenges remain. Children spend more time in Virginia foster care than in many other states, and Virginia still has the highest percentage of youth who are "aging out" without being adopted.

Radio Iowa, Iowa – November 4, 2010
November is “National Adoption Month” and an Iowa group is asking everyone to look around their community and see if there are opportunities to adopt. Iowa KidsNet director Amy Juhnke says on average in Iowa, there are 600 kids available from foster care on a day-to-day basis. While her group works with foster care adoptions, she says the month celebrates all adoptions from international to private adoptions. Juhnke says they are always looking for people willing to take kids in from foster care. Juhnke says the process to adopt a foster child is similar to becoming a licensed foster parent, and they have many parents who are foster parents and adopt foster kids. She says you go through the process and they offer training.

Monday, November 01, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama – October 26, 2010
Up until 2009, 16-year-old Alabamians had the authority to make a life-altering decision. Whether they knew it or not, this decision would impact their future earning potential, increase their likelihood of going to prison and possibly earn them a one-way ticket into poverty.  They could decide to drop out of school.  The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that the students who dropped out in 2008 will cost the state of Alabama $1 billion in lost wages over their lifetimes.

The Wall Street Journal, Washington, D.C. – October 30, 2010
Our time in office and in charge of the school system of Washington, D.C., is quickly drawing to an end. Monday is Michelle's last day as schools chancellor, and Mayor Fenty failed to win the Democratic primary last month. A new mayor will be elected next week.  During our nearly four years in office we pressed forward an aggressive educational reform agenda. We were determined to turn around D.C.'s public schools and to put children above the political fray, no matter what the ramifications might be for ourselves or other public officials. As both of us embark on the next stages of our careers, we believe it is important to explain what we did in Washington, to share the lessons of our experience, and to offer some thoughts on what the rest of the country might learn from our successes and our mistakes.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia – October 26, 2010
Georgia's high school graduation rate rose 2 percentage points this year, bringing it to a record 80.8 percent, state officials announced Tuesday. But some national education experts say the 17-point gain in graduation rate over seven years cited by  the state  is suspect because of  a flawed system used to calculate it.  The 2010 state graduation rates cited by the state  improved for students in all racial and economic groups, including:  -- Georgia’s African-American students had a graduation rate of 75.8 percent, up more than 23 percentage points from 2003 and from 74.1 percent in 2009.  -- Hispanic students had a graduation rate of 77.6 percent, up more than 29 percentage points from 2003 and from 71 percent in 2009.

Juvenile Justice

The Crime Report, New York - October 25, 2010
The New York State juvenile detention system, where 85 percent of those incarcerated are minorities, is working to reduce racial disparity, says Gladys Carrion, New York commissioner of children and family services. Speaking to a Coalition for Juvenile Justice conference on Fundamental Fairness: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice, Carrion says data show a “disproportionate representation of minority youth at critical decision points in the juvenile justice system” in the state. ”We need a juvenile justice system that values young people and doesn’t write them off as throwaways and believes that the young have the capacity to change their behavior and mature,” Carrion said.

The Wall Street Journal – October 29, 2010
Judges are grappling with whether it is ever proper to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without parole in light of a Supreme Court decision that such a punishment for non-murderers is cruel and unusual. In its May ruling, the Supreme Court reasoned juveniles are less culpable than adults for their crimes because they are less able to control their behavior, and they have a better chance of being rehabilitated.

The Daily Tar Heel, North Carolina – October 29, 2010
North Carolina is discussing an issue of age — and it’s not the drinking age.  The state may soon allow 16- and 17-year-olds to be tried in the juvenile justice system.  North Carolina is the most strict for young offenders, trying those at or above age 16 in the adult system, Judge Marcia Morey of Durham County District Court said.  The issue will go to the N.C. General Assembly in 2011, she said.

Foster Care, Flint, MI – October 26, 2010
For young women who are leaving foster care, often there is no place to go. Now, they have a place to call home.  Nina's Place, a center for young women who have aged out of foster care, will celebrate its grand opening at the YWCA of Greater Flint Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin were instrumental in securing the $850,000 grant to pay for the program for two years, said Harmony Langford, director of operations at YWCA of Greater Flint.

The Huffington Post, Baltimore, MD – October 26, 2010
Baltimore City Public Schools and the Baltimore City Department of Social Services find common ground on the education of children in foster care.  Few moments in the life of a child and family can rival the trauma that comes the day the state knocks on the door and places that child into foster care. Often this is only the first in a fast sequence of events that will invariably alter that child's life well into adulthood.  As children around Baltimore settle into the routine of the school year, the distinct minority who enter foster care will struggle to find stability.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Daytona Beach, FL – October 30, 2010
The local child welfare agency that has served foster children for almost 10 years will be competing to renew about a $27 million-a-year contract with the state.  The state Department of Children & Families is seeking proposals for a nonprofit or governmental community-based organization to serve as the lead provider starting July 1 for five years to provide foster care services, including emergency shelter, case management, adoption and a host of other services. Agencies have until Jan. 13 to submit to the local DCF contract office, and a review committee will rate the proposals, then make a recommendation to the circuit and regional directors. Community Partnership for Children, in Daytona Beach, currently provides services to about 1,200 children who are in foster care or receiving services in their home.

Monday, October 25, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Daily Times, Middletown, PA – October 22, 2010
Imagine being in a very deep mine shaft with no light and no way to get out, and not even knowing you’re there.  That’s how Francis Carey, director of the Delaware County Office of Employment and Training, described the situation of high school dropouts, the focus of a two-day summit that culminated Thursday at Penn State Brandywine’s campus with a congregation of 50 social service agency, educational and business leaders, as well as students and parents.

Eagle-Tribune, Haverhill, MA – October 20, 2010
Denisse Baez said without programs like night school at Haverhill High, several of her friends would have quit long ago.  They would have joined former students who have kept Haverhill's dropout rate at nearly double the state average for the last five years.  The night school and other programs aimed at keeping potential dropouts in school will reach out to more students because of a federal grant announced yesterday. The grant total can reach $4 million in the next five years, school officials said.

Contra Costa Times, Oakland, CA – October 18, 2010
A 7-year-old nearly dwarfed by his black-and-white striped shirt and baggy pants, a 'tween in tight jeans and a whole stageful of youngsters did the moonwalk at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, nimbly gliding backward during a Michael Jackson dance contest. Nearby, a long line of parents and children waited for free shoes and school supplies in the bright August sun, while others grabbed free pizza.  The event: The city's third annual Back to School rally, cofounded by Nyeisha DeWitt and two fellow Oakland natives.  Apparently, there is no obstacle that can hinder DeWitt's fierce determination to keep Oakland children in school.

Juvenile Justice

Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL – October 18, 2010
It may be the only partnership of its kind in the U.S., bringing together CSO musicians, a music theater workshop focused on "at-risk" youths and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.  The path that led Chicago Symphony Chorus member Sarah Ponder to perform with residents in a youth correctional center began with two words uttered in 2008.  "Even prisons" were the words, and they were spoken by Riccardo Muti in his first Chicago news conference after being named music director of the 119-year-old classical music institution. The maestro outlined his plans for expanding the orchestra's community involvement to such areas as schools, hospitals, "even prisons."

Northland’s News Center, Duluth, MN – October 19, 2010
Community and government leaders came together Tuesday to discuss the importance of juvenile justice reform and ways to improve outcomes for kids.  The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative formed almost a year and a half ago with the intention to change the effect the justice system has on troubled kids.

News Observer, Durham, NC – October 23, 2010
Child advocacy groups pushing North Carolina to join the rest of the nation in treating miscreant 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles rather than adults will hold a public forum in Durham this afternoon.  Action for Children North Carolina and Covenant with North Carolina's Children, both based in Raleigh, are sponsoring the event. Panelists will discuss recidivism rates, childhood brain development and differences between the state's adult and juvenile justice systems.  North Carolina is the only state that treats all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults when they commit crimes, with no legal option to be processed as juveniles.

Foster Care

Seattle PI, King County, WA – October 18, 2010
Fueled by high unemployment and high housing costs, shelters for young adults in King County are turning people away in record numbers. The legacy of a failing foster care system and young people stranded by the crack epidemic of the late 1980s, the record demand experienced by these shelters illustrates a new face of homelessness, and comes even as the number of beds for young adults has been expanding.

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN – October 24, 2010
Jerry Harris isn't in foster care anymore, but the 18-year-old college student still needs plenty of moral support.  So while he studies art education and lives at a friend's house, Harris also attends life skills classes at the nonprofit South Memphis Alliance on Bellevue. "This program has helped me out a bundle by teaching me how to save money, open a bank account and formulate a budget," he said.  "Because I was a big spender. I like stuff."

The Ledger, Auburndale, FL – October 23, 2010
Anchor House Ministries is negotiating to assist the state's foster-care system in a pilot project to better prepare teenagers for going it alone once they're of age. The Auburndale agency that serves as a group home for troubled boys is working to lease apartment space to Heartland for Children, a local nonprofit that oversees foster care and adoptions services for the Department of Children & Families. Heartland is exploring the idea of group settings like Anchor House, which provide safe habitat with a modicum of security and oversight, as an alternative to housing older foster teens enrolled in the state's Independent Living Program in private apartments or with friends and relatives.

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The New York Times – October 10, 2010
The education gap facing the nation’s work force is evident in the numbers. Most new jobs will require more than a high school education, yet fewer than half of Americans under 30 have a postsecondary degree of any kind. Recent state budget cuts, education experts agree, promise to make closing that gap even more difficult. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and four nonprofit education organizations are beginning an ambitious initiative to address that challenge by accelerating the development and use of online learning tools.

The San Fernando Valley Sun, San Fernando Valley, CA – October 13, 2010
San Fernando High School and Pacoima Middle School are among 12 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools taking part in a five-year, $11.3 million Federal High School Graduation Incentive Grant program to lower dropout rates and boost student recovery efforts.  Joining San Fernando and Pacoima are Belmont, Gardena, Fremont, Huntington Park and Dorsey high schools, and John Liechty, Peary, Bethune, Gage and Audubon middle schools.

The Examiner, Brunswick, GA – October 16, 2010
Sixteen-year-old Nykeer Brown, a Brunswick High School junior, is doing better in school now than she ever imagined.  Not only is she scheduled to graduate on time in May 2012, but she's even working toward her goal of graduating a semester early, December 2011.  After struggling with low grades when she was at Jane Macon Middle School a few years ago and categorized as an at-risk student, Nykeer was identified for a program called Focus Graduation. The program falls under the umbrella of the nonprofit organization Communities in Schools - one of the nation's leading community based, drop-out prevention organizations that helps students succeed in school and prepare for life.

Juvenile Justice

The State, South Carolina – October 14, 2010
When the Department of Juvenile Justice demolished a dilapidated dormitory last month, it was the latest visible sign of the remarkable transformation the agency has undergone.  Just as the agency has begun constructing new buildings, it also has been rebuilding young lives. DJJ, once simply a warehouse for young lawbreakers, has become a place where lost young souls can expect a genuine effort to rehabilitate them in preparation for a second chance.

Winston-Salem Journal, North Carolina – October 17, 2010
North Carolina is the only state in the union that still requires all 16- and 17-year-olds to be tried as adults regardless of their offense, and advocacy groups want that to change.  “It does not make sense to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in the adult system,” said Barb Bradley, the president and CEO of Action For Children North Carolina, at a forum yesterday in Winston-Salem. Adolescents, she said, “don’t have that capacity in your brain to understand the consequences of some of your actions.”

Foster Care

PR Newswire, Schaumburg, IL – October 13, 2010
There is no denying that teenagers in the foster care system need special support so they can begin to develop the skills that will take them successfully into adulthood. The Coalition for At-Risk Youth (CARRY) was founded by Dr. Grimes in 2005 with the goal of providing opportunities for children and teens with skin diseases and other medical issues. Through CARRY, Dr. Grimes offers a wide range of services for youth who enter the program. Scholarships, mentoring, self-esteem workshops and a number of other individually targeted efforts underscore the organizations commitment to improving the outlook of teens with medical problems - one child at a time.

WCBD Channel 2, South Carolina – October 12, 2010
Thousands of children in South Carolina, victims of neglect and abuse, need permanent homes. A program is putting the problem in focus, an effort to help these children find forever families. Special portrait walls at Trident and Summerville Medical Centers are helping foster care children find forever families.  The South Carolina Heart Gallery is a program of the Governor's Office Children's Foster Care Review Board and South Carolina Department of Social Services.  Millie Qualls says, “If we don't find families for them, they age out of foster care, and statistics show very clearly, children who exit the foster care system at age 18 with no connections, it's very difficult. They haven't benefited from the love and nurture most kids do, and they may be homeless.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Center Post-Dispatch, Center, CO – October 7, 2010
Center High School students are taking advantage of a jump-start on their college education by enrolling in a new program made possible by legislation passed in the Colorado State Legislature in 2009.  A recent statement made during a Colorado Dept. of Education (CDE) meeting attended by Center school administrators indicates that currently Center High School is the only Valley school participating in the program.

Missoulian, Missoula County, MT – October 7, 2010
These high school dropouts. Who are they?  For one, they're Alvin Morin, who drank himself right out of class.  "During my junior year, I'd drink and never do any homework."  And they're Daniel Ewing, who was never any good at school but pretty good at scoring drugs.  "I just didn't care anymore, and I had no influences in my life to tell me to do things better." As a way of introduction, Graduation Matters poured a cold bucket of reality on a roomful of people Wednesday afternoon with the stories of these three "kids" - Morin is a 19-year-old man now, and the other two grew up way too fast.

PUSD awarded $2.4 million to increase graduation rates
Pasadena Star-News, Pasadena, CA – October 5, 2010
The Pasadena Unified School District announced Tuesday that it will receive a three-year, $2.4 million federal grant to increase graduation rates by 15 percent over the three-year period.  The grant from the U.S. Department of Education High School Graduation Initiative, will give PUSD about $800,000 a year to support dropout prevention strategies.  "These funds will ensure our ability to maintain dropout prevention and reduction as a priority, even in the midst of our current budget crisis," Superintendent Edwin Diaz said in a statement Tuesday.

Juvenile Justice

KCTV 5, Kansas City, MO – October 5, 2010
Fewer children are behind bars in Kansas City and it's thanks in part to the success of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a program that began four years ago.  The National Juvenile Justice Reform Conference is bringing more than 600 juvenile justice practitioners, advocates and experts to the metro to further discuss ways to further reform troubled youth.

Billings Gazette, Casper, WY – October 5, 2010
There’s a moment in “Your Neighbor’s Child,” a new documentary on Wyoming’s juvenile justice system, when a group of teenagers reflect on their time spent locked up.  One kid describes being assaulted and threatened with rape by other teens. Another recounts making drugs.  “I learned how to do more awful things in there,” he says matter of factly.  The feature-length documentary, which premiers Thursday, takes a critical look at Wyoming’s methods for dealing with young offenders. It depicts a system that locks up juveniles for minor offenses and leaves kids worse off than before they were incarcerated.

The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD – October 6, 2010
At a New Year's Eve party at a Baltimore home last year, several adults fired guns into the air. When police arrived, they arrested three adults and a 17-year-old I'll call Bernard. Never in trouble with the law before, Bernard was charged as an adult and held in adult jail until his family could produce bail.  Like many states during the 1990s, Maryland passed "tough-on-crime" laws that automatically send many teenagers, like Bernard, into the adult criminal justice system. These laws were based on fear — fear of juvenile "super-predators," a popular notion at the time — and fanned by occasional high-profile crimes committed by kids. Nearly a decade later, the super-predator concept has been debunked, and states are starting to roll back these punitive, ineffective laws. Maryland should join this movement and stop automatically charging youths as adults.

Foster Care

The Herald News, Fall River, MA – October 5, 2010
There is a pervasive attitude in the media that once a child has reached the tween years their patterns are pretty much set for life. If the kid has taken a troubled turn then more bad is most likely to follow.  Best not to get involved with such a thankless job.  Fortunately, the national statistics don’t support that theory. According to CORE,, a national children’s organization, 78.5 percent of children who age out of children’s homes in this country go on to college. That’s well above the national average.

89.3 KPPC, California – October 6, 2010
From now on, California will keep young people in foster care until they turn 21. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger held a ceremonial signing of Assembly Bill 12 in Los Angeles Wednesday.  The governor signed the bill on the campus of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services. He said that from now on, foster care kids won’t have to worry about aging out of the system when they turn 18.  "They need help. It’s ludicrous to think that at the age of 18, you can take care of yourself," said Schwarzenegger.

Providence Business News, Cambridge, RI – October 5, 2010
Rhode Island’s Real Connections program and Liquor Compliancy Online were selected as two of 173 Bright Ideas recognized by Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Real Connections, selected from 600 applicants, serves youth who are in danger of “aging out” of foster care without permanent adult supports in their lives. The program matches youth with adult mentors to cultivate connections towards becoming foster, guardianship or adoptive relationships.

Monday, October 04, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Valley News, Riverside, CA – October 1, 2010
A program to identify and help struggling high school students in Riverside County who are at risk of dropping out received a $1.3 million injection from the federal government, it was announced today.  The county's Office of Education was allocated the funds under the U.S. Department of Education's High School Graduation Initiative, which supports activities that engage troubled teens and attempt to steer them onto a productive academic course.

Hartford Courant, Hartford, CT – October 1, 2010
The federal government plans to spend $13.3 million in the next five years, including $2.7 million this school year, to reduce the dropout rate in a city where one out of two students don't graduate from high school, officials said Friday.  In an announcement at Hartford City Hall, U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, Mayor Pedro Segarra and Superintendent Steven Adamowski said the city school system would use the grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish Student Success Centers at Bulkeley, Weaver and Hartford Public high schools.  The centers will offer tailored academic instruction and personal support to students who are considered "off-track," or have previously dropped out and are back in city schools, administrators said.

UPI, Washington, DC – September 30, 2010
Nearly $100 million in grants were awarded to state and local efforts to improve academic performance and support dropout prevention, U.S. officials said.  Twenty-eight high schools will receive $52.2 million under the Smaller Learning Communities program and 29 states and districts will receive $46.6 million under the High School Graduation Initiative program, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday in a release.

Juvenile Justice

The Crime Report, New York, NY – September 29, 2010
New York City has begun to seriously re-think its juvenile detention policies, but it will take time for major changes to happen.  The city of New York operates a juvenile detention system, a sort of baby Rikers’ Island, where young people awaiting disposition of their family court cases are held. Like a city jail, the young people held in these facilities have not been found guilty of any crime. They are simply awaiting trial.  The Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice, which administer the facilities, don’t like to call them jails, or refer to the youth in them as incarcerated or label the court hearings for the children “trials.” There is a softer vocabulary for juvenile justice: youth are held in secure detention, remanded and awaiting disposition.

The News-Star, Monroe, LA – September 30, 2010
The goal to create a model juvenile drug court in the 4th District was a main topic of discussion Wednesday at the Joint Juvenile Justice Summit. District attorneys, judges, attorneys and probation officers from across the state gathered at the University of Louisiana at Monroe for the summit, hosted by the Louisiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the 4th Judicial District Court and the Louisiana District Attorneys Association.  The summit focused on issues within the state juvenile justice system and effective measures different entities are taking to ensure successful programs.

ABC32 WNFF, Montgomery, AL – October 1, 2010
Montgomery Public Schools has received a sizable federal grant to expand mentoring programs for at-risk students.  The U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recently awarded MPS’ Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) Initiative a two-year, $300,000 grant to begin offering community-based mentoring services to 60 students at-risk for truancy, juvenile delinquency, school failure and dropout.

Foster Care

Mercury News, California – October 2, 2010
Aiming to improve the dismal outcomes for thousands of 18-year-olds who leave the foster care system each year alone and impoverished, California will soon provide support through age 21 via a bill described as the most significant piece of foster care legislation in two decades.  The bill "legislates responsible parenting by the state," said Chantel Johnson, legislative coordinator for the California Youth Connection. Johnson, a former foster youth, said the new law will make her frightening experience "aging out" of foster care no longer so common: "I emancipated from a group home, and basically they handed us a trash bag on our 18th birthday after the cake and said: 'I hope you do well, come back and see us sometime.' "

Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama – September 30, 2010
Alabama's success in finding permanent homes for children in its foster care has paid off to the tune of $1.5 million. In 2009, the state had the highest number of adoptions in its history with 676 children being placed in permanent homes. And Gov. Bob Riley said he hopes that the momentum will continue long after he's out of office.

WQAD, Chicago, IL – October 2, 2010
Illinois has received a $10 million federal grant to test new ways of finding permanent homes for foster children.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the award Friday. It will fund a five-year project focusing on children ages 9 to 12. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services leads the project. Also involved are University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the juvenile courts and the Child Care Association of Illinois.