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.

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