Monday, January 18, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


New study details impact of dropout rate on Twin Cities, Twin Cities Metro, MN – January 12, 2010
A new study out today highlights the lost earnings potential of high school dropouts and the resulting impact of those lower incomes on state economies like Minnesota’s.  If the local dropout rate had been cut in half for the Class of 2008, for example, the Twin Cities metro economy would see more than a $100 million boost in annual economic activity as these students hit their mid-career earnings stride, according to a Washington, D.C.-based policy institute focused on improving high schools.

Kids Count in Michigan: Bay County math MEAP test proficiency significantly higher, less drop-outs
Bay City News, Bay County, MI – January 12, 2010
In Bay County, a significant amount of students are now proficient in the math MEAP tests, according to the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2009.  The data book, released today, examines county-level trends in a child’s well-being. It scopes into child poverty rates, child health, child abuse and neglect and education statistics. Data is from 2008 and compared to data from as early as 1998.  In the education sphere, math MEAP test scores are up, and high school dropouts are down.

Getting dropouts back on the right path
Houston Chronicle, Texas – January 9, 2010
About 20 percent of high school dropouts recruited into a state-funded recovery effort graduated within a year and more are still working toward their diplomas, according to preliminary results of Texas' $6 million, incentive-laden pilot program.  Computer-based classes and career counseling have proven key in helping the 1,173 students enlisted in May 2008 into the Texas Dropout Recovery Pilot Program. Providing child care, night classes and financial incentives haven't yielded the higher graduation rates that educators expected.

Juvenile Justice

Program aims to keep youths on track after suspension
The Times and Democrat, South Carolina – January 15, 2010
Keeping suspended or expelled students engaged in their studies is the focus of a new program that begins Jan. 20.  Project Life: Positeen founder and Director Liz Zimmerman Keitt announced the expansion of the organization’s services Wednesday with a new program called “Yes I Can — Runway.”  Funding for the program comes from two $10,000 grants by the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and the Central Carolina Community Foundation.

Children Are Not Too Old to Change
Newsweek, January 15, 2010
One day, treatment of young people who run afoul of the law may be guided by logic rather than politics, prejudice, and uninformed passion. That was the implicit message of a report delivered to New York Gov. David Paterson last month, just in time for Christmas. The report, from the governor's task force on reforming criminal justice, came on the heels of a U.S. Justice Department investigation that found New York's juvenile penal system to be tragically mismanaged.  Youngsters in custody were routinely assaulted by staffers. Beatings were so severe that teeth were knocked out, bones were broken, and some kids were rendered unconscious.

Neb. bill proposes juvenile-justice reforms
Nebraska TV, Lincoln, NE – January 8, 2010
Relieving pressures on the juvenile-court system, keeping kids in schools and ultimately decreasing youth violence are all part of a bill before Nebraska lawmakers.  Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha on Friday introduced a measure that would provide more means for schools, courts and parents to intervene with at-risk children.  Ashford has said the juvenile-justice system is not working and reforming it is his top priority this legislative session.

Foster Care

County adopts new rules to make foster care system more user-friendly
Contra Costa Times, Santa Cruz, CA – January 12, 2010
Kevin West remembers, when he was in foster care six years ago, having to do certain things that he didn't think he should have to.  "I was told to take medication all the time, and nobody told me why," the 24-year-old Santa Cruz resident said.  Other wards of the county, West says, share similar confusion about whether they are allowed to get a job or have to go to church.  This week, the county's notoriously bureaucratic and often dizzying child welfare system became a little more transparent and easier for stakeholders to figure out. County supervisors Tuesday signed off on a new ledger of rights and resources for foster children and their caregivers who have had problems navigating the legal hurdles that come with stringing new families together.

A sense of home: University program aids students who were in foster care
The Bismark Tribune, Fresno, CA – January 11, 2010
In foster care, Kenyon Whitman changed families a half-dozen times before settling down with someone he now calls his grandmother.  That carousel of foster care could have destroyed any college ambition. But Whitman found another home at California State University, Fresno, where a program supports former foster youths and guarantees them a place to stay - even during the holidays.  Whitman, 22, is one of 33 students in the Renaissance Scholars Program. The grant-funded program caters to the academic, financial and emotional needs of former foster youth.

Financial Difficulties Strain California’s Foster Care System
The New York Times, San Francisco, CA – January 14, 2010
In the summer of 2008, a 13-year-old boy from San Francisco emerged from a government van and scanned his new surroundings. Five handsome houses, a small school and an old gymnasium stood on 11 rural acres in the Central Valley that bordered an almond orchard. Beyond the last house was a soothing panorama of unbounded farmland, interrupted only by old Highway 99 and the big rigs that rumbled across the horizon.  For more than two decades, this has been the setting that greeted more than 2,400 wards of the state as they arrive at the Excell Center ranch, a group home for foster boys with histories of violence or mental disabilities.

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