Monday, February 15, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Advocates of at-risk youths plot strategy at Children's Summit
Houston Chronicle, Houston, TX – February 9, 2010
Dealing with Houston's emerging “third-world” population of underprivileged children at a time when the pool of money for such initiatives is dwindling will require creativity and tough decisions on the part of youth advocates.  That was the consensus among the government officials, educators and nonprofit groups gathered Tuesday for Children at Risk's fifth annual Children's Summit.   “The work for the next year is to figure out what we can move through the madness, to move the needle for children, (but also be) revenue neutral and still substantive,” said Marc Levin, director of the Center for Effective Justice, a Texas nonprofit research firm.  Nearly half of the high school students in the Houston Independent School District fail to graduate in four years, and a large number of them drop out, leading to much bigger problems for the community, according to Children at Risk, a Houston based advocacy group.

Bill to raise school drop-out age clears state Senate panel
Savannah Morning News, Atlanta, GA – February 12, 2010
A proposal co-authored by state Sen. Lester Jackson to raise the minimum school dropout age from 16 to 17 cleared a Senate panel Thursday.  The Education and Youth Committee urged passage of the bill after it was merged with a bill sponsored by Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta.  The co-authors say the proposal will divert young dropouts from a course that often includes unemployment, crime and prison.

Bus tour fights Oklahoma's dropout rate
NewsOK, Oklahoma – February 11, 2010
Last year, more than 4,000 Oklahoma high school students gave up on their diplomas. Across the nation, that number is 1.2 million — a figure that was called "unacceptable and unimaginable” during Drop Out Prevention Day on Wednesday at the Capitol. "We believe that high school drop out prevention is everyone’s business,” Freda Deskin, co-founder of the For Youth Initiative, which brought education and business leaders from across the state together to discuss the dropout problem.

Juvenile Justice

Bills would limit private juvenile detention centers to 48 beds
The Baltimore Sun, Carroll County, MD – February 9, 2010
Bowling Brook Preparatory School opened its doors in Carroll County in 1957 as a small school for orphans.  But by the time 17-year-old Isaiah Simmons died there after being improperly restrained by staff in 2007, Bowling Brook had grown into a large, privately run juvenile detention center housing more than 170 boys.  A law passed after Simmons' death capped the number of beds allowed at state-run residential facilities at 48, but left privately run programs open to expansion.  Sen. Bobby A. Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat, has introduced a bill that would extend the cap to private facilities, even as the new owners of what used to be Bowling Brook are considering expansion. Del. Dan Morhaim, also a Baltimore County Democrat, is sponsoring a companion version of the bill.

Troubled teens, canines help each other
The Detroit News, Pontiac, MI – February 8, 2010
Once Teacher's Pet is in session, it's hard to tell the difference between the teachers and the students.  A dozen teens from Oakland County's Children's Village are paired with a handful of rambunctious dogs from Oakland Pet Adoption.  Both need help to make a better life for themselves on the outside. The teens, placed by the courts into the Oakland County facility for troubled youth and juvenile offenders, have been challenged with the task of training the dogs -- who have lingered at the shelter because of behavioral problems -- into well-behaved, adoptable pets. The pets are there to offer unconditional love to youngsters in the criminal justice system. The animal-assisted therapy program is also in place at the Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center in Mount Clemens, the Kingsley Montgomery School in Waterford and at Crossroads for Youth in Oxford.

Foster Care

Program raises money to help troubled teen girls
New 8 Austin, Austin, TX – February 12, 2010
Every year, hundreds of children in Texas age out of the foster care system when they turn 18. The thought of not getting adopted can cause a lot of stress for a teenager who wants a permanent home. Sometimes, that stress can lead to anger and bad behavior.  However, there are some programs in place to help these troubled teens, programs like the New Life Residential Treatment Center in Canyon Lake. Sixty girls ages 11 to 18 live in the center, with more on the waiting list. About 90 percent are foster children waiting to be adopted.

Delaware government: Vouchers assist those who age out of foster care
The News Journal, Dover, DE – February 7, 2010
The state is extending a hand to youths who age out of the foster care system, offering housing assistance by way of 50 Family Unification Housing Vouchers available to young adults ages 18 to 21. Originally, the competitive vouchers were intended to bring families together, but the federal government has decreed that they also may be used to provide housing for those who leave foster care and need affordable housing in a safe environment. Currently, the Delaware State Housing Authority and the state Division of Family Services are seeking participants who will pay 35 percent of their income for housing with the voucher covering the balance.

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