Monday, May 17, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Students get back to ‘business’ with second-chance high school
Tacoma Weekly, Tacoma, WA – May 12, 2010
While Tacoma’s smallest high school is still in its infancy, it is starting to have a big impact on its students.  Tacoma Business Academy (TBA) serves as last-ditch alternative to students looking for a second chance.  It is open to about 45 students ranging in age from 16 to 21 who all have one thing in common: they are high school dropouts.  Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Alfaro enrolled in TBA last March. She dropped out of Lincoln High School at age 16 because she started skipping school and fell behind.  “I just got lazy and I stopped going to school,” she said. “I slacked off and I regret it. That’s why I’m back.”

Hispanic dropouts less likely to earn GEDs than blacks or whites, report finds
The Washington Post, Washington, DC – May 13, 2010
Hispanic high school dropouts are much less likely to earn General Educational Development credentials than their white or black counterparts, especially if they are immigrants, according to a report released Thursday by the Pew Hispanic Center.  The report, "Hispanics, High School Dropouts and the GED," found that only one in 10 Hispanic high school dropouts has a GED, compared with two in 10 African American dropouts and three in 10 white dropouts.

Dropouts get second chance, gain GEDs and help community with new construction skills
The Flint Journal, Flint, MI – May 7, 2010
Daniel Liddell never went to high school. But you wouldn’t know it by speaking with him.  Once a teenage street hustler with no home of his own, Liddell is now a clean-cut, well-spoken motivational leader among his 32 classmates in a Flint program created last year to give struggling young adults a second chance.  “This program is a blessing to me,” he said about Metro Flint Youthbuild, a selective program in its first semester housed in the former Longfellow Middle School.  It offers intensive GED and construction trade instruction.

Juvenile Justice

Sestak calls for juvenile justice reform
Citizen’s Voice, Wilkes-Barre, PA – May 11, 2010
With the Luzerne County Courthouse at his back and its sordid legacy of cash-driven juvenile justice as his chief exhibit, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak on Monday called for the elimination of policies in Pennsylvania and 24 other states that allow juveniles to appear in court without an attorney.  The policies, Sestak said, undermine the due process rights of juveniles, who are often ill-informed about the consequences of their court proceedings and the ramifications of foregoing representation.

Ogle County juvenile diversion programs see success
The Journal-Standard, Oregon, IL – May 15, 2010
To Sherri Egan, Ogle County’s new emphasis on diversion programs for non-violent juvenile offenders, as opposed to incarceration, has had a positive impact on the community and cut down on court costs while reducing the number of young repeat offenders.  “We’re doing more balance and restorative justice programs,” said Egan, executive director of the Ogle County Juvenile Justice Council. “As a result, we’re seeing fewer juvenile cases coming into the court system. We’re diverting the majority of our cases into alternative (programs). It’s been positive all around.”

Foster Care

Some children grow out of foster care into promising future
Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, NC – May 14, 2010
Like so many other children born into ominous settings, Brittany Wheeling grew up fast, without really growing up.  By the age of 12, she was going to parties with her mother that she had no business being around. An unstable family life coaxed her into abusing drugs and other unsafe behavior. Her interest in school plummeted.  The Department of Social Services took custody. Brittany soon found herself hurling objects at her therapist during counseling sessions, and bouncing between foster homes. The odds seemed high that she would turn 18, embrace the legal right to be on her own, cut ties with DSS, and continue down a tragic path — perhaps passing her problems on to her children.  But others weren’t so quick to write her off. And a state initiative that prepares foster children for adulthood has helped to put Brittany on a promising track.

Humboldt County receives funds to expand peer-support services
Times-Standard, Humboldt County, CA – May 16, 2010
The county plans to expand services that let people who know what it's like to be an at-risk youth help others in the same situation.  The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services is receiving more than $800,000 this year to fund an integrated continuum of services for local at-risk youth transitioning into adulthood.  The county's project was approved last week by a state commission and will be funded by the Mental Health Services Act. The MHSA -- also known as Proposition 63, which was passed by voters in 2004 -- takes a 1 percent tax from the personal income of millionaires to fund a range of prevention, early intervention and other service needs.

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