Monday, February 01, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


City, State Leaders Work To Combat High School Drop-Out Rate
NBC4i, Columbus, OH – January 28, 2010
Every 26 seconds, a student drops out of high school. That’s 7,000 students a day nationwide. 19,000 Ohio students dropped out of high school in 2009.  “Attendance is often a sign of falling behind academically. Why do you want to go to school if you can’t keep up?“ said David Andrews, a professor at The Ohio State University.  City of Columbus and State of Ohio education leaders gathered with students and community partners Thursday to see how they can help turn the numbers around.   The event is called “Community Partnerships: Making Graduation Possible” and is sponsored by the organization America’s Promise Alliance, founded by Retired General Colin Powell and his wife Alma.

Pittsburgh-Allegheny partnership aims to help school dropouts
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh-Allegheny County, PA – January 28, 2010
La'Teja Kirk dropped out of Westinghouse High School just days into her senior year after getting into a fight. She then spent the next two years working at Wendy's.  But now, Kirk, 20, of Homewood, is working to get her diploma through Communities In Schools of Pittsburgh-Allegheny County.  "I feel like this was a positive program for me," said Kirk, who wants to pursue a psychology degree. "I knew I wanted to do something with my life and be a positive role model for my little sister. Dropping out wasn't the answer."  Pennsylvania needs more programs such as Communities In Schools to get its more than 117,000 dropouts back in class, according to a report released Wednesday by the Harrisburg-based nonprofit, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.

Drop Back In paves another path to high school diploma
TC Palm, St. Lucie County, FL – January 22, 2010
It is a last chance, given in church meeting rooms and storefronts where students quietly labor at computer terminals without the distraction of crowded halls and the social milieu of traditional high schools.  “Here, all you’ve got to focus on is your work,” said 19-year-old Anthony Sumpter, who left Fort Pierce Westwood High School in the 11th grade. “I want to be successful. I have a child. I want to be able to take care of her.”  He is among some 110 students now enrolled in the St. Lucie Drop Back In Academy. The year-old private-public partnership offers high school dropouts ages 16 through 21 a chance to earn the same diplomas they would have gotten had they stayed in school.

Juvenile Justice

Minnesota lawmakers push juvenile justice alternatives
Pioneer Press, Minnesota – January 28, 2010
Experiments in three Minnesota counties to change the way juvenile offenders are dealt with could soon be expanded to other parts of the state.  Minnesota legislators and others familiar with the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative report on their early findings after a pilot program.  Democratic state Sen. Mee Moua says the Senate Judiciary Committee she leads is considering how to duplicate the program now being used in Dakota, Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

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.

Juvenile justice reform backed
Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln, NE – January 28, 2010
When he was 16, Justin Tolston made a stupid mistake. He shoplifted a $4 bottle of facial cream.  He pleaded no contest and successfully fulfilled his punishment: 90 days of probation.  It wasn't until recently that Tolston learned how a misdemeanor offense in a supposedly noncriminal juvenile court can come back to bite you.  He was told he probably wouldn't be hired as an intern in the State Attorney General's Office because of his youthful transgression.  Tolston, now a University of Nebraska-Lincoln sophomore seeking a degree in political science, eventually got the job, but only after a couple of state senators intervened on his behalf.

Foster Care

CWLA Reveals Top 5 Child Welfare Challenges and Opportunities for 2010
Center Daily Times, Washington, DC – January 27, 2010
Kicking off the year, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), the nation’s oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization, announced its top challenges and opportunities for 2010, during its “Children 2010: Leading a New Era” National Conference. CWLA’s Top 5 list captures events and trends are shaping the future for foster children this year…and beyond.  “The Top 5 are key issues affecting foster children. Even though the economy continues to take its toll, we do see promising changes in the way our nation treats children and tackles child welfare issues,” said CWLA’s CEO Chris James-Brown.

Foster-care system saving more kids
Miami Herald, Florida – January 27, 2010
The privatization of Florida's foster-care system has allowed local communities to design and manage their own unique systems of care. This success story is the result of hard work, dedication and talent. But most of all, this success story is the result of the public-private partnership between Our Kids and the state Department of Children & Families (DCF).  Our Kids began providing services in mid-2005, and in a few short years, Miami's foster-care system has been transformed into one of the state's best performers.

Documentary Examines Problems that Confront Foster Children Who “Age Out”
GTR Newspapers, Washington, DC – January 28, 2010
Montana social worker Matt Anderson is on a mission to educate the public about the pitfalls of American foster care, especially older children about to age out of the system.  Many of these young people do not have family or public support. They are at higher risk of going to jail, suffering from depression, getting pregnant, becoming homeless or other problems.  Anderson is working to complete the documentary “From Place to Place” that follows teenagers who have turned 18 and left foster care.

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