Monday, January 25, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Gateway to Gollege expands with $13 million in grants
Los Angeles Times, California – January 22, 2010
The Gateway to College National Network announced today that it has received $13 million in grants to expand programs that help high school dropouts earn a diploma while also amassing college credits.  The grants include $7.28 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $3.8 million from the Foundation to Promote Open Society and $1 million each from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Kresge Foundation.

Obama seeks $1.35 bln for school reform in next budget
Reuters, Washington, DC – January 19, 2010
U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced he intends to seek $1.35 billion to extend a nationwide public-school reform program as part of his fiscal 2011 budget proposal.  The funds, aimed at reversing a decline in U.S. public schools, would be on top of the $4.35 billion that financially strapped states already are competing for under Obama's "Race to the Top" initiative included in the $787 billion economic stimulus plan passed last year.  Obama wants states to use the funds to ease limits on charter schools, link teacher pay to student achievement and move toward common U.S. academic standards. Charter schools receive public funding but are exempt from some state or local rules and serve as an alternative to regular public schools.  The United States has one of the worst high school dropout rates in the industrialized world and its students often rank below those in other Western nations in reading and math.

Graduation Rate for Colorado Hispanics Up in 2009
Latin American Herald Tribune, Denver, CO – January 22, 2010
The gap between the graduation rate of Hispanics at Colorado public high schools and that of all students decreased in 2009, according to a government report.  The study by the Colorado Department of Education, released Sunday, revealed higher graduation rates among all students in the Class of 2009, up 0.7 percent from the previous year, and particularly among Hispanics, up 2.2 percent. Judith Martinez, a consultant who heads the CDE’s dropout prevention office, said a new state law and greater awareness of the benefits accruing to those students who earn their high-school diploma contributed to the improved results.

Juvenile Justice

States rethink 'adult time for adult crime'
CNN - January 15, 2010
A year ago, Maydellyn Lamourt watched her 16-year-old son's dreams fall apart.  The outgoing sophomore who enjoyed playing sports was charged and sentenced as an adult in Connecticut for third-degree assault. Earlier this month, Connecticut raised from 16 to 17 the age at which a juvenile is automatically prosecuted as an adult. The change comes at a time when the "adult time for adult crime" mentality is being re-examined in several states and challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.

City Signals Intent to Put Fewer Teenagers in Jail
The New York Times, New York, NY – January 20, 2010
The Bloomberg administration plans to merge the city’s Department of Juvenile Justice into its child welfare agency, signaling a more therapeutic approach toward delinquency that will send fewer of the city’s troubled teenagers to jail. The integration of the agencies is effective immediately, and was announced by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in his State of the City speech Wednesday afternoon.

Wyoming counties look at alternatives for juvenile justice
Billings Gazette, Casper, WY – January 16, 2010
Carbon County wants to build a crisis center in an old bank building. Uinta County has designs on a hub where juveniles can be assessed as they enter the system.  They are among 14 counties and two tribes in Wyoming participating in a state program that helps communities develop services for young offenders. The Legislature enacted the community juvenile services board program in 2008 to encourage more local alternatives to traditional detention.  The program comes with a $2 million pot that could pay for community service programs, training, electronic monitoring or other services.  Advocates for the community services boards say they will provide cheaper alternatives than traditional detention and keep low-risk kids from sinking deeper into the criminal justice system.

County's juvenile justice task force delayed
Tampa Bay Online, Tampa FL – January 21, 2010
Hillsborough County commissioners put the brakes Thursday on an ambitious plan to revamp the county's juvenile justice system.  Commissioner Kevin Beckner wanted approval to create a task force that would analyze the juvenile system with a goal of spending less money on detention and more on early intervention with youth who are arrested. That method has been used with great success by Miami-Dade County's nationally recognized Juvenile Services Department.

Foster Care

New mentoring program helps youths after foster care
Anchorage Daily News, Alaska – January 16, 2010
When foster kids grow up and leave state care, they often have no one they can call when they get a flat tire, or are confused about how to rent an apartment, or just need a friendly ear. A new effort launched Friday is intended to change that. A private organization, Alaska Community Services, is starting a mentoring program to match adults with teens in foster care to create bonds that continue after they age out of the system.  A foster kid advocacy group approached the Legislature with the idea. State Rep. Les Gara and Amanda Metivier, founder of Facing Foster Care in Alaska, looked into how to make it happen. Alaska Community Services stepped up and the state Office of Children's Services got on board.

Utah Youth Mentor Project: Program has benefits for all involved
The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake County, UT – January 20, 2010
Skylar Goodspeed knew he needed someone to talk to, but what really appealed to him about having a mentor was the snowboarding.  Three years later, the Sandy youth is thankful for more than the occasional chance to hit the slopes. His relationship with the Utah Youth Mentor Project has given him a place to live, a chance at an education and a special friend in Bert Dart.  Dart has served as Goodspeed's mentor though his transition out of foster care at 18, also called "aging out." The Salt Lake City attorney and his wife, Dorothy belong to a mentoring group through the Utah Youth Mentor Project to help fosters teens' transition to adulthood.

Delegate seeks improvement of foster care
Charleston Daily Mail, Charleston, WV – January 17, 2010
One Kanawha County delegate said she considers it her mission this legislative session to begin an overhaul of the foster care system in West Virginia.  Delegate Bobbie Hatfield, D-Kanawha, plans to introduce a bill this week that would call for major organizational changes to the state's system. She says too many kids are getting "lost in the shuffle," and are being bounced around to multiple foster homes and facilities at delicate stages in their lives.  Hatfield's legislation was inspired by the story of a young boy named Jacob, 5, whom she said was placed in five separate foster homes in the span of just a few years and now suffers emotional problems as a result.

Foster teens ready to tell city council how to fix system
The Washington Post, Washington, DC – January 22, 2010
The room the other night was full of teenagers and their teenage habits. There was the eye-roller, the wise-cracker, the slouch-in-the-seater.  They had colorful markers and a dry-erase board for the meeting, and they talked about college applications and jobs and dorms. Most of them grew up in "the system" as they call it, and any hope for adoption or a long-term foster home or reunification with their families is minuscule, so they wait until they age out.

No comments: