Monday, June 21, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Kansas governor creates commission to tackle problem of high school dropouts
Fox 4KC, Topeka, KS – June 15, 2010
Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson says the state's high school dropout rate is too high, and he believes it's hurting the economy.  Parkinson signed an executive order Tuesday creating a panel called the Kansas Commission on Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery.  The governor's office says the commission will study the dropout problem and make recommendations with a goal and timeline for reducing the annual dropout rate. The commission will also develop systems for spotting students at risk of dropping out.

Second-chance school in Camden graduates 370
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Camden, PA – June 15, 2010
The futures of 370 high school dropouts got a big boost and education-choice proponents argued their case during a graduation ceremony Monday for a grassroots Camden alternative school.  Held at the Susquehanna Bank Center, the commencement was the largest in the three-year history of the Community Education Resource Network (CERN), according to cofounder and political activist Angel Cordero.

Salem County Alternative High School students graduate
New Jersey On-Line, Carneys Point Township, NJ – June 16, 2010
Students from the Salem County Alternative High School graduated Tuesday night representing a pure spirit of hope.  The 2010 graduates - Tyron Denby, Zach Durburrow, Jessica Freitag, Shawn Gardner, Arlene Lodge, Michael Robinson, Branden Wallace, and Lahara Williams - were awarded a diploma, something many doubted they could accomplish. "The most exciting thing about this graduation is that these are kids who didn't think they would graduate," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Loren Thomas. "For me, this is a representation of hope and the fact that an alternative program can meet the needs of kids that just can't be met at the home school."

Employers Increasingly Expect Some Education After High School
The New York Times – June 15, 2010
The number of jobs requiring at least a two-year associate’s degree will outpace the number of people qualified to fill those positions by at least three million in 2018, according to a report being released Tuesday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.  The report makes clear that some education after high school is an increasing prerequisite for entry into the middle class. In 1970, for example, nearly three-quarters of those workers considered to be middle class had not gone beyond high school in their education; in 2007, that figure had dropped below 40 percent, according to the report.  “High school graduates and dropouts will find themselves largely left behind in the coming decade as employer demand for workers with postsecondary degrees continues to surge,’’ write the authors of the report, led by Anthony P. Carnevale.

Juvenile Justice

Ramsey County aims for color-blind juvenile justice
Spokesman-Recorder, Ramsey County, MN – June 15, 2010
As deputy director of the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center, Michael Belton, 59, knows the current justice system is rarely blind, especially when it comes to color. During his 31-year career, Belton has witnessed youth of color repeatedly treated more severely. In April, he testified before Congress on the inequities in the juvenile justice system.  “We have two justice systems, one for Whites and one for kids of color,” said Belton in a subsequent interview from which all the following quotes are taken. “The one for kids of color is more intrusive, harsher and longer. The one for Whites is short and supportive.”

Senators pursue alternatives to juvenile detention
Citizen’s Voice, Harrisburg, PA – June 16, 2010
Senators are citing the breakdown of Luzerne County's juvenile justice system as reason to put greater emphasis on programs that stress treatment and rehabilitation as the key to keeping juvenile offenders out of state prison.  The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony Tuesday from witnesses advocating the use of community programs to address youth behavioral issues such as bullying and substance abuse and student-driven youth courts as alternatives to juvenile detention facilities for young offenders.

Legislation would set standard for juvenile detention
The News Star, Louisiana – June 17, 2010
The Louisiana Legislature has passed a bill that would set standards for juvenile detention facilities, one of the long-deferred promises from the state's landmark juvenile justice reform legislation. House Bill 1477, introduced by Rep. Damon Baldone, D-Houma, and passed by the state Senate last week, would establish statewide standards for the safety and secure custody of juveniles while they await a court's decision on their case. The bill directs the Louisiana Juvenile Detention Association to conform with nationally recognized standards and best practices. Detention facilities around the state would uniformly run their day-to-day operations, hire and train staff, according to certain qualifications, and maintain a staff-to-child ratio.

Foster Care 

New law supports foster care reform
NBC 2 KTUU, Anchorage, AK – June 16, 2010
Gov. Sean Parnell signed into law House Bill 126 Tuesday night.  House Bill 126 caps off a full package of foster care reforms aiming to support nearly 2,000 foster youths in Alaska.  The bill would allow youths to stay in foster care until they turn 21 and would allow others to re-enter into foster care.  Weeks ago, the governor approved foster care efforts in the operating budget.

Grand Jury wants county to support foster youths till 21
Ventura County Star, Ventura County, CA – June 14, 2010
Ventura County officials should support a bill extending foster care payments up to age 21 and track the progress of young adults after they leave foster care, the Ventura County Grand Jury said in a report issued Monday.  Each year, about 50 local youths who’ve turned 18 leave the foster care system. Under state rules, they’re considered adults and too old to claim benefits. Anecdotal evidence suggests they are at high risk for becoming homeless, pregnant, jailed and stuck in low-wage jobs.  In their report entitled “Youth in Shadow,” jurors pointed to AB 12, a bill passed by the state Assembly and now pending in the state Senate.

Older teens become key issue for social service agencies
The Florida Times-Union, FL – June 14, 2010
Starting a new semester at college. The second job she urgently needs to supplement her work-study gig. The trip to the doctor that she doesn’t have insurance to cover.  It might seem like Natalie Mancuso has a lot on her mind. And she does. Armed with a Bright Futures scholarship and becoming the first in her family to attend college, she had been working and going to school full-time.  But when her father kicked her out of the house, she was suddenly on precarious ground.  She had to fight for independent status to get a Pell Grant to stay in the dorms at the University of North Florida. After a bout with severe depression, things collapsed. She was forced to leave the dorms and withdraw from school; her job stopped offering full-time hours.  She bounced between nights crashing at friends’ houses and sleeping in her car.  That changed in January, when she moved into Project Prepare, the independent living program run by daniel, a child welfare agency in Jacksonville for homeless youth from 16 to 21 years old. It was a profound relief.

New rules ensure kids in Oregon foster care get right psychiatric drugs, but not too many
The Oregonian, Oregon – June 15, 2010
Justin Snegirev mostly remembers feeling nauseous, tired and alone during the more than seven years he spent in state foster care.  Placed in a foster home when he was 8, Snegirev says it wasn't long before he was prescribed Ritalin, a drug used to treat attention deficit disorders. Next came an antidepressant and then a sleeping pill. Between ages 8 and 15, Snegirev says he was given at least seven different types of psychiatric drugs.  But he wasn't mentally ill, says Snegirev, now 20. "I was in an abusive situation and was a kid who simply was expressing symptoms of abuse -- and nobody was listening to me."  As of July 1, Oregon will have a new law and new rules to ensure closer scrutiny of psychiatric drugs given to kids living in foster homes.

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