Monday, January 11, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Dropping In
The Texas Tribune, Texas – December 21, 2009
In his gravelly voice, one he’s learned to never raise, principal Joe Gonzales explains how students come to his high school in East Austin. Almost always, it happens against their will, or after everyone else has given up on them. Or both.  Usually, they buck his faculty's first attempts to reach them, and often their second and third. One student recently threatened to “knock the gray out of his hair.”  “Students come to us in one of three ways,” he explains. “They get sent here by the courts because they've gotten in trouble. They get denied admission to another ISD. Or their parents get tired of them sitting around on their behinds and force them to go to school.”

Revolution in U.S. education is in California
San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles, CA – January 10, 2010
The greatest revolution in education in the United States today is taking place in Los Angeles. It is the mandate of the Los Angeles Unified School District School Board to convert almost a third of its schools either to charter schools, the public schools of choice that are the one shining light in an otherwise dysfunctional system, or other alternatives such as magnet schools. The change is not only a mighty one for the state's largest school district, but in time it could double the number of public schools of choice in California.

Tennessee To Develop Policies To Increase Graduation Rates
Chattanoogan, Tennessee – January 4, 2010
Tennessee has been selected by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) to participate in the Policy Academy on State Strategies to Achieve Graduation for All.  The state will receive $50,000 to develop a dropout prevention and recovery work plan that supports the development of state policies and practices designed to increase graduation rates. Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and West Virginia have also been selected to participate in the program.

Juvenile Justice

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) Tells BI Staff JJDPA Reauthorization is a "Priority"
PRWeb, Concord, CA – January 9, 2010
Rep. George Miller (D-CA) met today with representatives of the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) including Executive Director James Bell, and stated during a conversation that reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice And Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) is a “priority.” “We will get to work; we will get this done,” Rep. Miller said after an engaging conversation with BI staff during which he asked about the organization’s success with juvenile justice reform.  On Dec.17, 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 678, which would reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) -- one of the major federal juvenile justice laws. The House has not yet taken significant action on the measure. Rep. Miller explained that health care reform has been at the forefront of House considerations. He said the House Committee on Education and Labor is working with Rep. David Scott (D - GA) on juvenile justice legislation.

Middlesex County aims to put juvenile offenders on right track, not behind bars, Middlesex County, NJ – December 29, 2009
Juveniles who break the law in Middlesex County but pose no real public safety or flight risk may soon be spending more time in a new support program than at a youth detention center. Middlesex County has applied to participate in the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. The primary goal of the program is making sure that secure detention is used only for serious and chronic youthful offenders.

New York Can Do Better By Juvenile Offenders
The Wall Street Journal, New York – December 18, 2009
What does $210,000 buy in New York State? These days, as two recent reports demonstrate, that's what it costs to lock up one child in a brutal juvenile justice system so dysfunctional that its reform-minded commissioner, Gladys Carrion, advises judges not to place children in her facilities.  We could not do worse. But 10 years of research shows that we know how to do much better—incarcerate less, and use the latest research to treat delinquents in community-based programs.

Foster Care

State's foster care reforms receive good marks in federal evaluation
The Star-Ledger, New Jersey – January 8, 2010
Children in New Jersey's child welfare system are safer than they were a year ago and more are kept with siblings when they enter foster care, according to a federal report issued yesterday.  But too many children remain in the system for too long without a plan for their futures and are kept from their parents. In the first look at whether a more than $1 billion overhaul of the state system is actually helping the 48,000 kids it oversees, a federal monitor said New Jersey "exceeded expectations" in several areas directly connected to children's well-being and that the state continued to strengthen the structure of the once-broken system.

Homeless young people in Chico have a place of their own, Chico, CA – January 10, 2010
Just around the corner from City Plaza, wedged between Jack's Restaurant and Broadway, a doorway leads to a clean, safe place where young people from the street can hang out.  They can rest on a couch, grab a shower, wash their clothes and chat every day from noon to 8 p.m.  The 6th Street Drop-In Center, 130 W. Sixth St., helps people age 14-24 who are currently on the streets or on the verge of being homeless, explained Nancy Jorth, the center's director.  Open since March 2008, the center is part of Youth For Change, a nonprofit, public benefit program for children and families.  A large majority of the kids who drop in were in foster care for a "significant amount of their childhood," Jorth said, and some have limited schooling and little family support.

Help sought for teens
Richmond County Daily Journal, Rockingham, NC – January 10, 2010
When most people think of foster care, they think about the need for more foster homes, not about the children who are aging out the system about to strike out on their own.  Nationally, about 250,000 teenagers age out of the foster care system and enter the world as “adults” at age 18. In North Carolina, that number is about 450 teenagers.  But here in Richmond County, the Department of Social Services does all it can to make sure the teens are either in permanent homes with a relative or guardian, or are taken care of if they decide to strike out on their own.

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