Monday, March 08, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Obama highlights federal funds to lower high school dropout rate
CNN, Washington, DC – March 1, 2010
President Obama highlighted stronger federal efforts Monday to help lower a high school dropout rate that, according to the president, is undermining America's future economic potential.  Obama noted that the administration has committed $3.5 billion in new federal support for underperforming schools. Among other things, the Education Department is attempting to encourage states to identify and take new measures to reverse trends in schools with graduation rates below 60 percent.

House backs bill to raise dropout age to 18
Courier-Journal, Frankfort, KY – March 4, 2010
A bill to raise Kentucky’s school dropout age from 16 to 18 passed the House Thursday after a lengthy, sometimes impassioned debate. The vote on House Bill 301, which now goes to the Senate, was 94-6.  “It is a crisis in Kentucky, folks," said Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, the sponsor of HB 301. “We should be ashamed and we have an opportunity to change that here today.”

Every Urban Prep senior is college-bound
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL – March 5, 2010
Four years ago, Bryant Alexander watched his mother weep.  She stared down at a muddle of D's and F's on his eighth-grade report card and threatened to kick him out. He had barely passed elementary school, and high school wasn't even on his radar.  "Something just clicked," Alexander, now 18, said. "I knew I had to do something."  On Friday, Alexander proudly swapped his high school's red uniform tie for a striped red and gold one — the ritual at Englewood's Urban Prep Academy for Young Men that signifies a student has been accepted into college.  As the Roseland resident and 12 others tied their knots, Chicago's only public all-male, all-African-American high school fulfilled its mission: 100 percent of its first senior class had been accepted to four-year colleges.

Juvenile Justice

For Juveniles in Family Court, Judges Seek Safer Alternatives to Prison
The New York Times, Brooklyn, NY – March 7, 2010
He was a member of the Bloods, the prosecutor said, and he later joined another gang. He was arrested once for grand larceny and twice for assault. He went to school drunk and spat on the dean of students.  “He admits to going out to Bergen Beach to rob people,” the prosecutor continued, as the courtroom fell silent. “He stated that this is the way that he gets his money.”  Judge Turbow, looking anguished, was still reluctant to issue the harshest penalty: sending the teenager to a juvenile prison run by the state.

Committee advances juvenile justice bill
Lincoln Journal Star, Lincoln, NE – March 3, 2010
The Legislature's Judiciary Committee on Wednesday advanced a juvenile justice bill that seeks to keep young nonviolent offenders out of detention as much as possible and to ensure that those in detention don't stay there an inordinate amount of time.  It would allow for sealing some juvenile records and give judges the option of suspending driving privileges for truant kids and those who commit misdemeanors or felonies. To keep juveniles out of detention facilities unnecessarily, it would ensure those needing temporary placement be detained in the least restrictive way possible.  The bill also would authorize a pilot project in Omaha to implement giving civil citations to juveniles who have committed misdemeanors, other than those involving a firearm, sexual assault or domestic violence.  And it would broaden the use of videoconferencing in certain juvenile proceedings to save on transportation costs and reduce the time some juveniles are detained.

Foster Care

LA County Antonovich calls for programs helping foster children transition to adulthood
89.3 KPCC, Los Angeles County, CA – March 2, 2010
"Young people aging out of the (foster care) system are vulnerable without the ability to find housing, earn a living and receive the education required to be successful, productive and self-sufficient adults,'' Antonovich said. Antonovich called for programs to offer the necessary skills and tools to foster youth to effectively transition to independence.   Federal legislation signed by then-President George W. Bush in 2008 requires states to provide foster care services to youth to age 21. Pending state legislation hopes to ensure that California meets those requirements

State Youth Opportunities Program Expands to County
Kalamazoo Weekly, Kalamazoo, MI – March 4, 2010
The Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative (MYOI) is expanding into Kalamazoo with a unique partnership with Western Michigan University’s Seita Scholars Program.
The initiative, which already serves about 500 youths 14 to 20 years old in 30 Michigan locations, is meant to connect older youth in foster care to available services, help youth develop financial and life skills, and empower foster youth to become self-advocates.  MYOI itself is a partnership between the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative and the Michigan Department of Human Services. The initiative’s ultimate goal is to improve outcomes for youth transitioning from foster care to adulthood by focusing on education, employment, housing, physical and mental health, and community engagement.

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