Monday, April 26, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


District Innovates to Address Dropout Problem
Education Week, Detroit, MI – April 23, 2010
By any measure, the Detroit area’s high-school-dropout problem is a crisis.  The Motor City area has one of the highest dropout rates in the country, which experts say contributes to the city’s economic stagnation and high crime rate, and strains state and local aid programs. But Westwood Cyber High School, a new online program sponsored by the 2,500-student Westwood Community School District near Detroit aimed at helping struggling students earn their diplomas in virtual classes, is having success re-engaging area dropouts and at-risk students.

Fayette Community Action Agency addressing dropout program
Connellsville Daily Courier, Pennsylvania – April 22, 2010
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 226 students dropped out of the six school districts in Fayette County in the 2007-08 school year. This is the last year statistics were available.  "We have a dropout problem in the Fayette County school districts, and that's why our GED program is so important," said Fayette County Community Action Agency's education project manager Sue Wagner, who is also a certified teacher.  Sometimes, young people don't realize how important education is until they reach their mid-20s, Wagner said.

University of Michigan adviser to help nudge Muskegon High School students toward college
The Muskegon Chronicle, Muskegon, MI – April 26, 2010
A program through the University of Michigan aimed at increasing the number of students pursuing higher education will place a college adviser at Muskegon High School beginning next year.  The full-time adviser, a recent graduate of U-M, will not cost the school district anything while providing students valuable help getting lined up for post-secondary education, officials said.

Michigan high school dropout rate falls 3 percent
The Detroit News, East Lansing, MI – April 19, 2010
Michigan's high school dropout rate is down 3 percent since Michigan adopted tougher graduation requirements in 2007, Gov. Jennifer Granholm told educators at Michigan State University for the 15th annual Governor's Education Summit.  On the eve of Tuesday's four-year anniversary of the higher-standards curriculum, Granholm said the percentage of students who leave school before graduating declined from 14 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2009 -- contrary to critics' predictions that more students would drop out if required to take Algebra 2 and other tough subjects.

Juvenile Justice

DOJ Backs Juvenile Justice Reauthorization; Hearing Today
The Crime Report, Washington, DC – April 21, 2010
The Justice Department says it ”strongly supports” the Senate’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2009, reports Youth Today. The letter, Justice’s first public statement on the legislation, was sent less than a week before today’s initial hearing on reauthorization by the House Education and Labor Committee.

Juvenile justice evolves in Wyo.
Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Cheyenne, WY – April 25, 2010
Laramie County's plan to build its own youth detention facility is part of an evolving policy change in the way Wyoming handles children who come in contact with law enforcement.  The system is designed to meet Wyoming's desire to create local decisions, while also meeting state and federal standards for satisfactory treatment of children. Wyoming Department of Family Services Director Tony Lewis said the idea is to create state-support, community-run programs that can best address problems that kids encounter.

Foster Care

Adoption law change aids foster parents
The Washington Post, Washington, DC – April 21, 2010
The D.C. Council passed emergency legislation on Tuesday intended to make it easier for foster families to provide permanent homes for children, especially older ones, who often languish in the child welfare system.  For years, some foster parents who wanted to adopt or to become legal guardians have opted not to because it would mean an earlier end to the subsidy that many rely on to help care for the children they take into their homes.  Under the new law, instead of losing the subsidy when the child is 18, a legal guardian or adoptive parent will keep the subsidy until the child turns 21 -- the same age at which it ends for a foster child.

Dream Teams help foster teens cross bridge to adulthood
Le Mars Daily Sentinel, Le Mars, IA – April 20, 2010
When teens who live in foster homes wake up on their 18th birthday, they have more to think about than freedom and independence.  In the U.S. foster care system, children who turn 18 and graduate from high school are "aged out."  That means they have to find a job, a place to live, transportation, a college -- even basic necessities like dishes and towels.  "We can't even begin to imagine it, because we had parents when we made that transition out," said Nola Aalberts, who works with area teens in foster care through a program called Dream Teams.

Supreme Court Approves First-ever Rules of Juvenile Procedure
Huntington News, Charleston, WV – April 21, 2010
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has approved West Virginia’s first Rules of Juvenile Procedure.  Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis said, “The Court is pleased to announce the approval of these rules, which are the result of several years work.”   The rules will become effective on July 1, 2010. An order approving the rules was entered today, April 20, and copy of the rules is posted on the Supreme Court Web site at  “Through the Court Improvement Board, the Court earlier adopted the Rules of Procedure for Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings, and those rules have been an enormous help in improving the quality and timeliness of results in those cases. The Board’s Youth Services Committee, led by attorney Jane Moran, thought a similar set of rules for delinquency/status offense cases would bring about similar benefits, and that is the main purpose of this comprehensive set of rules,” Davis said.

Monday, April 19, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Jobless dropouts head back to school for basic skills
The Washington Post, Louisville, KY – April 13, 2010
The push to return unemployed workers to the nation's payrolls is hamstrung by a decades-old legacy of poor schooling that has left tens of millions of Americans without the basic reading or math skills necessary for today's jobs. They are people such as Sherry Carr, 56, a high school dropout who spent years working at printing presses but struggled to stay employed after that industry went into decline. She recently found work delivering food trays to patients in a hospital here, but the job came with a catch: To keep it, the hospital required that she get a GED. Even such basic tasks as knowing which patients are diabetic require an ability to read.

Promise Alliance aims to cut dropout rate
Columbus Local News, Columbus, OH – April 13, 2010
Leaders nationwide and locally have signed on to stamp out what some call a "silent epidemic."  In April 2008, the America's Promise Alliance launched a national dropout prevention campaign. The intent was to raise "the level of consciousness" about the national high school dropout rate, which lingers at about 30 percent currently, said Colleen Wilber, a spokeswoman for the alliance. The group, founded by retired Gen. Colin Powell, convened a "Community Partnerships" summit in Columbus in January. It was to serve as a springboard to galvanize local organizations to form a more strategic effort.  "The next step is ... we now really want to turn our attention to the action piece of this," Wilbur said.

Committee aims to slice dropout rate by 25 percent
Madison Record, Alabama – April 9, 2010
The Alabama Select Commission on High School Graduation and Student Dropouts, chaired by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, recently released the finding from a months-long study into the dropout epidemic along with recommendations for best practices to increase the state’s overall graduation rate.  “The commission’s goal is to reduce the number of high school dropouts by 25 percent over the next five years, and these recommendations provide the road map to get us there,” Orr said. “Until we take dramatic steps and focus on this issue, many of our children will never be fully prepared for the 21st Century workforce or the high tech job skills that it will demand.”

Juvenile Justice

Taking responsibility for youth justice
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL – April 12, 2010
Tribune readers should have been shocked to learn that more than 10 percent of the youths in state prisons have served their sentences but remain locked up because the state agency responsible for transitioning them back into community life has failed them. To its credit, one of the Illinois facilities (IYC Chicago) is collaborating with the MacArthur Foundation's Models for Change initiative and is beginning to introduce model programming to involve families. This kind of reform needs to be in place throughout the DJJ system and soon. Unless family connections are maintained and improved, youth who have often burned many bridges prior to their confinement will have a difficult time returning to their own home or to live with relatives.

Teen juries put a new spin on juvenile justice
The Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles, CA – April 13, 2010
The 13-year-old defendant, standing before a jury of his peers, hears the verdict: guilty of battery. The teenage jury foreman then reads the punishment: "We sentence the defendant to a daily curfew, anger counseling, and 50 hours of community service, Your Honor," he says. "Also, he is not to have any associations with gangs, will write a letter of apology to his parents and the victim, will submit to regular drug testing, and will be put on academic probation. We also will put him into regular auto shop and art classes.”  Teen peer court is in session at Dorsey High School in South Los Angeles – and this is no mock trial. The defendant, Garry V., is accused of a real crime. Student jurors mete out a real sentence. Presiding Judge David Wesley is a jurist from Los Angeles Superior Court. The school's Thurgood Marshall Courtroom is complete with a judge's bench, a witness stand, a jury box, and, yes, oak paneling.

Juvenile justice program develops as center opening nears
Tallahassee Democrat, Tallahassee, FL – April 12, 2010
Progress continues slowly toward the targeted — and tentatively scheduled — Aug. 1 opening day of a new teen center at the former Palmer Munroe Community Center, said Nancy Daniels, public defender for the 2nd Judicial Circuit. Located at 1900 Jackson Bluff Road near SAIL High School, the center will serve as the home of a restorative justice program intended to divert nonviolent offenders ages 13 to 19 from the traditional juvenile justice system.  In late January, the Tallahassee city and Leon County commissions and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice agreed to commit the money to re-open the teen center and to fund a restorative justice program for three years, though both commissions will have to vote each year to allocate those funds.

Foster Care

City Is Urged to Evaluate Foster Care
The New York Times, New York, NY – April 14, 2010
At 21, a young person in foster care in New York is officially out of the child welfare system.  Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, said Wednesday that the government’s involvement should not stop there.  In legislation introduced before the City Council, Mr. de Blasio said the city should collect data on former foster children to understand what happens to them once they are out of the city’s care.

Anchorage Daily News, Alaska – April 13, 2010
Yet another study on the future of many children raised in the foster care system shows that their chances at success are so minimal as to be just this side of nonexistent. The New York Times recently reported on a study done in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin showing six in 10 men who aged out of the foster care system had a criminal conviction by their mid-twenties. Three in four women in the same age group were receiving some form of public assistance, while struggling to raise children without a high school diploma. In a second group of the same age, one in five men had multiple criminal convictions, low education and incomes and often suffered from mental health issues and addictions.  The study does point out that children aging out of the foster care system who receive additional help with education grants, temporary housing and extended time in the system do better than their peers who don't.

Monday, April 12, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


As friends graduate, there's still hope for high school dropouts
Medill Reports, Chicago, IL – April 7, 2010
For graduating high school seniors, four years of working and waiting are about to pay off with ceremonies this spring. But other students their age, a disproportionate number from inner-city schools, won’t be celebrating.  It’s an old story, one that No Child Left Behind aimed to fix. But in Chicago, thousands of students still fail to earn enough credits to graduate by their senior year. Many of these teenagers ultimately give up on high school—contributing to a dropout rate that hovers at around 42 percent even after the Renaissance 2010 school reform initiative was adopted by Chicago Public Schools six years ago.  Renee Daye coordinates college and career readiness with Chicago Youth Centers, a nonprofit organization not affiliated with Chicago Public Schools. She says the bad ones are nicknamed “dropout factories.”

Cyber high school program reaches at-risk Wayne County teens
Detroit Free Press, Wayne County, MI - April 12, 2010
Nicquel Mitchell is a late riser, so by the time she wakes up and gets ready to start school, most teens her age have been in class for hours.  She's among 540 Wayne County students who attend Westwood Cyber High School in Inkster, where most of students' time learning is at home via the Internet. Students are required to step into the school building only two hours a week.  At this school, students -- called researchers -- learn by doing projects, a method that makes this school unique. But it's no cakewalk. These projects must be sophisticated enough to show students have learned the same concepts students in traditional classes learn.

America’s Promise Alliance receives $1 million donation to help prevent dropouts
The Daily Tell, Washington, DC – April 8, 2010
The dropout rate in American is reaching alarming heights. President Barack Obama has called it a crisis.  "Not long ago you could drop out of high school and reasonably expect to find a blue-collar job that would pay the bills and help support your family. That’s just not the case anymore," Obama said at an America’s Promise Alliance Education event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The call for help for students across the nation is being answered by communications company AT&T. To combat the high dropout rates, the company has announced a $1 million donation to America’s Promise Alliance, which will be used to fund an initiative encouraging students to implement their own programs for increasing graduation rates.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile justice program developing
Tallahassee Democrat, Florida – April 11, 2010
Progress continues slowly toward the targeted — and tentatively scheduled — Aug. 1 opening day of a new teen center at the former Palmer Munroe Community Center, said Nancy Daniels, public defender for the 2nd Judicial Circuit. Located at 1900 Jackson Bluff Road near SAIL High School, the center will serve as the home of a restorative justice program intended to divert non-violent offenders ages 13 to 19 from the traditional juvenile justice system.

Local juvenile courts leading way with new risk assessment tool
The News-Herald, Ohio – April 6, 2010
Low-risk youths housed in the same facilities as high-risk offenders ended up becoming worse rather than rehabilitated after they were released, a University of Cincinnati School of Criminal Justice study found.  Now, Ohio juvenile judges have a new tool at their disposal to stop the cycle of troublemaking behavior — and juvenile courts in Lake and Geauga counties are making good use of the system.  The Ohio Department of Youth Services unveiled in September the Ohio Youth Assessment System — a streamlined, Web-based system.

Committee hears testimony on bill to return most 17-year-olds to juvenile justice system
State Bar of Wisconsin, Wisconsin – April 5, 2010
Moving most 17-year-olds out of adult courts and into the juvenile justice system is “the right thing to do,” Atty. Rändi Othrow, chair-elect of the State Bar’s Children & the Law Section told members of the Assembly Committee on Corrections and the Courts on April 1 in testimony supporting enactment of Assembly Bill 732.  The legislation, proposed by Rep. Fred Kessler and co-sponsored by Sen. Lena Taylor, would increase the age at which a person would be subject to the procedures and sentencing outlined in the adult criminal code from age 17 to age 18. The proposal would retain the option for courts to waive a person under the age of 18 into adult court, and juveniles alleged to have committed certain crimes would be under the original jurisdiction of the adult court for criminal proceedings. Under the proposal, the changes would be phased in over a one-year period beginning on July 1, 2010.

Foster Care

Majority of Kids Aged Out of Foster System Struggle, Study Shows
ABC News, April 10, 2010
The vast majority of young people who age out of the foster-care system struggle to find housing and jobs and to complete their education, according to a new study released Wednesday, which tracked hundreds of foster-care youths from age 17 and 18 through age 23 or 24. "We took these young people away from their families because we said we as a society can do a better job parenting them," says Mark Courtney, a professor at the University of Washington's School of Social Work and an author of the study. "If you look at the average outcomes, I don't think any parent would be happy with those outcomes."

Study Finds More Woes Following Foster Care
The New York Times, April 6, 2010
Only half the youths who had turned 18 and “aged out” of foster care were employed by their mid-20s. Six in 10 men had been convicted of a crime, and three in four women, many of them with children of their own, were receiving some form of public assistance. Only six in 100 had completed even a community college degree. The dismal outlook for youths who are thrust into a shaky adulthood from the foster care system — now numbering some 30,000 annually — has been documented with new precision by a long-term study released Wednesday, the largest to follow such children over many years. Researchers studied the outcomes for 602 youths in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, and compared them with their peers who had not been in foster care. Most youths had entered the foster care system in their early teens and then were required to leave it at 18 or, in the case of Illinois, 21.

Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, FL – April 4, 2010

At this apartment complex painted cheerful shades of aqua and lavender, Judson Andre, 21, has been the man with the keys.  Here at H.O.M.E.S., a cluster of 15 apartments in northeast Fort Lauderdale, he handled maintenance issues — a leaky faucet, a stubborn air conditioner, a broken window — for $10 an hour. He has his own apartment on site.  Looking at this responsible young adult, it's hard to imagine that when he was 16, Andre was homeless, orphaned and trying to care for two younger siblings.

Monday, April 05, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Choice Bus shows students two sides of education
USA Today, Birmingham, AL – March 29, 2010
Henry Love-Mathews, 11, walked into the jail cell and heard the door clang behind him.  A single blanket covered a mannequin in a cot.  Love-Mathews stared at the only other furnishings, a toilet and washbasin combo on the wall in full view of the bars. "You have no privacy in the jail cell," Love-Mathews said.  "You eat the same food over and over again," added Javeryian Anderson, 12, "and it's not very sanitary. It gives you diarrhea."  Love-Mathews and Anderson, students at Southwest Middle School in Pine Bluff, Ark., were learning what it feels like to be confined to a jail cell on the Choice Bus.  Half school bus and half jail cell, the Choice Bus is the brainchild of Shelley Stewart of the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation in Birmingham, Ala., an education institution that targets the nation's dropout rate. The bus is taken to middle schools and high schools across America to encourage students to stay in school. The first Choice Bus headed out of Birmingham in October 2008 and visited schools in 12 states, according to Phil Christian, 47, executive director of the foundation. "The first bus was so popular and in such demand," Christian says, "we launched a second bus in September 2009 that is booked the entire school year."

Bill Raising School Dropout Age to 17 Becomes Law
13 WOWK, Charleston, WV – March 29, 2010
Gov. Joe Manchin signed legislation Monday that will prohibit students from dropping out of school until they are 17 years old.  The High School Graduation Improvement Act will increase the age that students would be exempt from state compulsory attendance law from 16 to 17, starting with the freshman class of the 2011-12 school year. It also will establish a handful of programs meant to help troubled students.  The new law was the result of last-minute negotiations between the state House of Delegates and Senate during the 2010 legislative session. Senators questioned whether increasing the age really compelled students to stay in school, saying there was little evidence it does.

Arizona bill provides quick way out of high school
The Arizona Republic, AZ – March 31, 2010
Under a new proposal approved by the state House, Arizona high-school students who pass tough new exams and earn passing grades in certain core courses could graduate as early as the end of their sophomore year with a special diploma.  The "Grand Canyon Diploma" would allow students to avoid the requirement to pass the AIMS exam; they then could go to work or enter a community college or a vocational school.

Juvenile Justice

Freed from prison, some juveniles have no place to go
Chicago Tribune, Illinois – March 31, 2010

Nearly 10 percent of the inmates in Illinois' juvenile prisons have essentially completed their sentences — in some cases more than a year ago — but are stuck behind bars because they have no place to go, state records show.  Many of the youths are being held longer in one of the state's eight juvenile prisons because officials cannot find an appropriate placement in a transitional living program or other kind of facility. Others are still in prison because officials found the homes of families or friends to be unacceptable, or because families simply refuse to take them back, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Juvenile system reforms working, report says
San Francisco Chronicle, CA – March 30, 2010
More than five years after California agreed to a court-monitored overhaul of its troubled juvenile justice system, corrections officials say they have completed more than 80 percent of the required policy changes, resulting in more education and less violence.  The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Juvenile Justice Division was ordered to make more than 8,000 policy and program changes by a court-appointed monitor after agreeing to settle a class-action lawsuit in 2004.

ULM hosts fourth meeting of juvenile justice summit
The News Star, Monroe, LA – April 1, 2010
Louisiana juvenile justice stakeholders gathered at the University of Louisiana at Monroe on Wednesday for the fourth in a series of six meetings discussing alternative methods for handling troubled youth. The northeast judicial juvenile justice summit was put on by the Louisiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the 4th Judicial District Court. Judges, law enforcement and care agency representatives were in attendance as speakers delivered presentations on the progress of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's "Models for Change" initiative in the 4th Judicial District and elsewhere in Louisiana, one of four core states selected by the foundation to work on systemwide change as part of the initiative.

Foster Care

Foster care: Legislation would give children more stability
The Patriot-News, PA – April 1, 2010
When Sam suddenly found himself in the foster care system as a senior in high school his entire world turned upside down.  But the most difficult thing for him was that, in his words, there was no rule book that spelled out his rights as a foster child.  No one told him, for example, he had a right to see his siblings who were living elsewhere, on a regular basis.  No one could tell him why relatives in another state were not contacted and asked whether he could live with them. And no one told him he had a right to meet personally with the attorney in charge of his case.  Unfortunately, Sam is not an exception to the rule. Recently a few young adults who lived with foster families or in a group home in Pennsylvania met with the editorial board and each had similar stories about being unaware of certain rights.  But legislation sponsored by Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne County, would change that. House Bill 2338, called the Children in Foster Care Act, would codify the existing state statute and regulations so that everyone involved with foster care, including the children, would understand all their rights.

Kids Caucus focuses on child-friendly legislative initiatives for 2010
Dover Post, Dover, DE – March 25, 2010
The General Assembly’s Kids Caucus presented its yearly legislative platform March 25, highlighting reform in the areas of public education and child health and safety.  Comprised of senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle, the Kids Caucus was formed in 2005 to solicit feedback and generate legislation advancing issues related to children. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Patricia Blevins, D-Elsmere, also touted aneducation bill that would permit children in foster care to be eligible for SEED Program scholarships, which are awarded to graduating high school seniors who choose to enroll in associate degree programs at state institutions.  The bill would extend eligibility to foster children who do not immediately move from high school to college, or who have GEDs.