Monday, July 12, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Money to help dropouts return to school restored
Daily Herald, Springfield, IL – July 8, 2010
A program to re-enroll high school dropouts will receive funding through this year. Sen. William Delgado was a sponsor of IHOPE last summer. It's a program that encourages dropouts to get back to school with year-round classes, summer school, evening courses and community college classes. The Chicago Democrat says funding for the program was in jeopardy, but that Gov. Pat Quinn has ensured money to keep it going.

Grad rates up for one west Alabama school district
NBC13, Tuscaloosa, AL – July 6, 2010
Facing a rising drop out rate, The Tuscaloosa City School District created several positions to increase the graduation rate.  The district hired a “graduation director” and “grad coaches” for each of it’s three high schools.  Officials believe the investments have paid off. For three years in a row, Tuscaloosa city high schools faced an increasing drop out rate.  But this year, they’ve turned that around and are celebrating, even if the celebration is short lived. For the first time in three years, graduation rates are up at all three Tuscaloosa City high schools.  Compared to rates a year ago, they’re up 14 percent at Central, 7 percent at Bryant and and 1 percent at Northridge.  The key appears to have been grad coaches at each high school and this man, the district’s director of graduation success and dropout prevention.

Legislature wants more high school grads
The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC – July 6, 2010
The legislature wants the state Board of Education to figure out how to get all high school students to graduate in four years. Under a measure the Senate approved unanimously Tuesday, the Board of Education must set minimum goals for graduation of 74 percent by 2014, 80 percent by 2016, and 90 percent by 2018. The measure now goes to Gov. Bev Perdue for her signature. The long-term goal, with no date attached, is to have all students graduate.

Ackerman, Nutter highlight schools’ progress, Philadelphia, PA – July 8, 2010
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and Mayor Nutter Thursday told business and community leaders about "significant gains" the Philadelphia School District made in the last year because they said the news was not being fully reported by the media. In a program that drew more than 45 leaders from the business, nonprofit, civic and education communities, Ackerman and Nutter cited eight years of rising test scores and an improved high school graduation rate, and said that 12,000 parents had participated in classes at the district's Parent University. "I think it's important to get our story out and not just depend on the media to do it," Ackerman told reporters in a briefing after the program at City Hall.

Juvenile Justice

D.C. youth justice agency's school improvements deemed 'remarkable'
The Washington Post, Washington, DC – July 9, 2010
The monitor overseeing the court-ordered reform of the District's juvenile justice agency said in a report filed Thursday that the city has staged a "remarkable" turnaround in how it educates juveniles in long-term detention and had moved a step closer to ending a long-running class-action lawsuit. Once marked by a dearth of certified teachers and a lack of appropriate special-education services, the school serving sentenced juveniles was turned over to a private foundation three years ago and has become a model educational program for a juvenile correctional facility, the monitor, Grace M. Lopes, said.

Reform helps ease overcrowding
Shreveport Times, Shreveport, LA – July 9, 2010
The small cell blocks inside of Caddo Juvenile Detention Center are reserved mostly for teens charged with armed robbery, sex crimes and other violent felony offenses. Despite a reported increase in younger, more violent criminals on the streets of Shreveport — including two teen girls charged with the attempted murder of a 70-year-old youth center worker — the facility houses fewer juveniles per day than it has in years. In Caddo Juvenile Detention Center, the daily occupancy dropped to nearly half of the average 45 to 50 children housed three years ago. Prior to 2007, juvenile officials struggled with overcrowding and young offenders making repeat visits.

Residential treatment facility to open at South Bend’s Juvenile Justice Center
WSBT, South Bend, IN – July 6, 2010
The Children’s Campus, a division of the Family & Children’s Center, has reached an agreement with the St. Joseph County Probate Court to operate a residential treatment facility at the Juvenile Justice Center. Consisting of 34 beds, the secure facility will provide clinical, psychiatric, medical, educational, recreational and vocational services to adolescent males with disruptive behavior disorder.

Foster Care

'The Teen Project' Helps Teenagers Aging Out Of The Foster System
The Huffington Post, California – July 7, 2010
For 18-year-old California teen Carla, aging out of the foster care system meant facing life on the streets, with no where to go and no way to support herself. She is one of over 4,000 teenagers who age out of the foster system each year -- in California alone. Luckily for Carla, The Teen Project was able to lend a hand. The organization was founded by Laura Burns, a former foster care child who found herself homeless when she turned 18. Thanks to the organization, Carla has a new home, which she will share with other former foster children, as she attends beauty school to get her cosmetology degree.

Berkeley natives tap media to speed foster care reform, California – July 8, 2010
When Daniel Heimpel and Eytan Elterman were back in town recently, they hit nearly every media outlet in the Bay Area and beyond, from the San Francisco Chronicle to the Sacramento Bee, appointment or not. The team behind Fostering Media Connections, a media-centered, grassroots enterprise aimed at hastening the implementation of foster care reform, was spreading the word about a system that often gets a bad rap. Of course there has been rejection, frustration and stress. But for every story printed and clip streamed, the pair’s social justice endeavor is validated.

Reforms help states cut number of foster-care kids
Richmond Times-Dispatch, New York, NY – July 3, 2010
No single youngster can be the poster child for America's foster-care system, with its mix of happy endings and heartache. Yet Tatiana Fowler's smile, as she embraces the woman who adopted her, gives a hint at the groundswell of change that is altering that mix for the better. Tatiana, 16, and her 15-year-old sister, Brittany, were adopted this year by a cousin of their mother after four years in foster care. They became part of a dramatic trend in New York City, which has reduced its foster-care population from nearly 28,000 in 2002 to less than 16,000 this spring. Thanks to sizable reductions in several other states, it's a coast-to-coast phenomenon -- the latest federal data, from 2008, recorded 463,000 children in foster care nationally, down more than 11 percent from 523,000 in 2002. By reducing stays in foster care, speeding up adoptions and expanding preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed in the first place, the numbers are promising.

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