Monday, March 29, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Bill to raise dropout age advances
The Courier-Journal, Frankfort, KY – March 23, 2010
A bill to raise Kentucky’s school dropout age from 16 to 18 passed a Senate committee on Tuesday. The vote on House Bill 301, which now goes to the full Senate, was 10-2. Republican Sens. David Givens of Greensburg and Vernie McGaha of Russell Springs voted no.  The committee amended the bill to raise the dropout age to 17 in 2015 and 18 in 2016, instead of 2013 and 2014, respectively, as specified in the original measure.

Communities in Schools offers support to help students achieve
Pal-Item, Richmond, IN – March 24, 2010
Recently, President Barack Obama announced his administration's plan to reduce high school dropout rates across the country. It is a sweeping initiative designed to improve many of our nation's schools from the inside out, with the goal of boosting the number of high school graduates and preparing those graduates for life after high school, either in college or a career. As the executive director of Communities in Schools of Wayne County (CISWC), I welcome the president's effort to keep kids in school. As the president mentioned in his speech, CIS has established an effective model -- in Wayne County and around the country -- of coordinating and integrating programs and services for children to help each one overcome whatever stands in the way of his/her graduation. The CIS model is one of a very few shown to keep students in school and is the only dropout prevention program in the nation with scientifically based evidence to prove that it increases graduation rates.

Bluffs dropout rates improve
World-Herald News Service, Council Bluffs, IA – March 27, 2010
The Iowa Department of Education has calculated high school dropout rates for the Class of 2009, and they show improvement in Council Bluffs. Statewide, the overall rate went up. Locally, that also was the case for Lewis Central High School where the rate was up slightly. But high school dropout numbers went down in the Bluffs. In fact, the district’s dropout rate improved to 4.96 percent from 8.05 percent in the 2007-08 school year. Put another way, Superintendent Martha Bruckner said, the district went from being one of the three worst school districts for dropout rates to not even being in the worst 20. She noted that the district’s dropout rate was actually lower than five other urban school districts in Iowa.

Juvenile Justice

Report highlights programs shown to reduce crime, restore victims, and preserve families

Texas Insider, Austin, TX – March 26, 2010

A new report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation seeks to help state and local policymakers identify cost-effective approaches to reducing juvenile crime and rehabilitating juvenile offenders.  “With Texas entering a difficult budget-cutting cycle, the report is intended as a reference guide for policymakers that helps them to replicate programs proven to be effective and replace those that have not worked,” said the report’s author, Marc Levin, Director of TPPF’s Center for Effective Justice.  The report includes a comprehensive review of juvenile justice programs across Texas and the country, measuring their effectiveness based on a range of factors – including cost, recidivism rates, and education and vocational outcomes.  The report also makes recommendations for improvements in data collection and analysis.

Juvenile Justice Reform Bill Passes Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee
ABC WCTV, Tallahassee, FL – March 26, 2010

The Florida Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee has unanimously passed DJJ’s Juvenile Justice Reform bill (SB 1072), the Department of Juvenile Justice’s (DJJ) Juvenile Justice Reform Bill, sponsored by Sen. Stephen Wise (R-Jacksonville). This broad and ambitious legislation continues reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system by providing greater access to rehabilitative options for troubled children, and addresses the over-representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system compared to the general population.  Among its measures, the legislation diverts children 9 years old and under into more appropriate services in DJJ. It also formalizes an existing specialized Residential program, as an option when it is necessary to keep young mothers and their babies together. Last year, the program served 40 girls with infants.

Foster Care

Virginia considers changing foster care system

News Leader, Staunton, VA – March 24, 2010

Virginia agencies are stepping up two initiatives in response to findings that foster children who “age out” of the foster system — at 18 or 21, if they attend college — are falling through the cracks. In 2007, 62 percent of foster children left the system to live permanently with either a relative or adopted family. A study by the Pew Research Center that year found older youths who age out or are emancipated from the system spend nearly five years without a permanent home. Twenty five percent will be incarcerated within two years and 20 percent will become homeless.  “The impact, just simply from not having a family is just tremendous,” said Ray Ratke, Virginia’s Special Advisor for Children’s Services, who oversees state agencies’ compliance with Children’s Services System Transformation, a subsequent initiative to improve care in 13 localities. “Let’s develop a plan to keep that family together.”

NBC WRCB, Nashville, TN – March 23, 2010

A nonprofit group that sued Tennessee over a law that caps how much the state will pay for foster care says the repeal of that provision in the legislature is a huge victory for children.  The provision allows the Department of Children's Services to bill counties for the cost of foster care if local judges commit children at a rate more than three times the state average.  New York-based Children's Rights has claimed that endangers children by pressuring judges to leave them in dangerous home situations.

New Channel 5, Nashville, TN – March 24, 2010

More than 9,000 children of all ages are in foster care in Tennessee. It's sometimes hard to find loving families to adopt the children, but the Wendy's Wonderful Kids is helping out.  The program is giving deserving children a place to call home.  "A lot of the children, who are teens or who are in group homes and don't have families to go to, they tend to sometimes take the wrong path. A lot of the families could really impact the children, help them to become productive in society and actually have hope for the rest of their lives," said Jocelyn King with Wendy's Wonderful Kids.

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