Monday, July 26, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


America's Promise Alliance and DeVry Announce Major Multi-Year Partnership to Increase High School and College Graduation Rates
The Wall Street Journal, Washington & Downers Grove, IL – July 22, 2010
America's Promise Alliance (the Alliance) and DeVry Inc. today announced a major, multi-year partnership to help increase high school and college graduation rates across the country. The partnership will be a featured component of the Alliance's Grad Nation campaign. Launched in March with the support of President Obama and Secretary Duncan, Grad Nation is a new 10-year campaign to mobilize all Americans to take action in their communities to end the high school dropout crisis and ultimately prepare young people for postsecondary education and the 21st century workforce. In support of the partnership, DeVry will donate $1.5 million to the Alliance, to be distributed over three years, and provide additional in-kind donations of up to $750,000 per year in each of 10 cities to support a key goal of both organizations -- to see more young people earn a postsecondary or college degree.

Students draft a lesson plan of their own
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL – July 23, 2010
Amara Brady's academic life changed when she transferred to Mother McAuley High School on the Southwest Side last year. She got better books, more passionate teachers and access to postsecondary education information she'd never had. "The schools aren't on a level playing field. And some systems are just set up for failure," said Brady, 16, who lives in the North Lawndale neighborhood, where many teens are faced with drugs, violence and a rising dropout rate. Deciding she wanted to do something about it, Brady joined World Vision's Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), which gives young people a voice to become what they call "agents of change." World Vision is a Christian organization dedicated to fighting poverty.

Governor Perry: No driver’s licenses for dropouts
WOAI, San Antonio, TX – July 16, 2010
Facing criticism over the Texas high school dropout rate from gubernatorial opponent Bill White, Governor Perry wants to solve the problem with a little tough love. "If you are of high school age and you are not in a bricks and mortar or virtual high school, you are not going to get a drivers license. It's that simple," said Perry. When police make traffic stops, Perry wants to give them access to the database of high school dropouts. But it’s not all tough love. Perry would also like to see a $1,500 tax break for employers who aid a worker in earning a diploma.

Juvenile Justice

Macomb Co. program teaches troubled youths to teach dogs
The Detroit News, Mount Clemens, MI – July 22, 2010
Canine companionship is helping some local kids turn around their troubled pasts at the Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center. A program called Teacher's Pet has them train dogs taken in by animal control, helping them develop responsibility, empathy and self-esteem -- and, eventually, finding homes for the strays. "The dogs can be frustrating to work with sometimes, but it's good to have someone to talk to when things aren't going right," said Lindsay, 15, who has been in the program for a couple of months. "I like knowing that I helped these dogs find a good home."

You Can't Fix Juvenile Justice and Ignore Race
Color Lines – July 16, 2010
The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) recently released a report that provides some useful strategies and examples of states and localities that have successfully downsized juvenile detention institutions and/or redirected funds to more community-based alternatives--programs that are proven to be more humane and effective toward reducing recidivism rates. The report is specifically designed to arm advocates during these "difficult fiscal times," as indicated in its subtitle. But from the perspective of realizing long-term reform of the injustice inherent in the "criminal justice" system, it's more than a bit surreal to scan the report and find not a single mention of the word race. Or black. African-American. Latino. Minority. I mean, nothin'. 

Adams County awarded $50,000 grant, joins Juvenile Detention Alternatives
Ritzville Journal, Washington – July 22, 2010
The Washington State Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee has awarded a $50,000 grant to Adams County to implement alternatives to secure detention for low-risk youth. Adams County will become the eighth county in the state to join the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Other counties participating in the initiative include Benton-Franklin, King, Mason, Pierce, Skagit, Spokane and Whatcom Counties. JDAI is the nation’s largest juvenile justice system improvement initiative, operating in more than 26 states for the past 20 years.

Foster Care

Too old for foster care, youths struggle
The Detroit News, Detroit, MI – July 21, 2010
A growing number of youths in Michigan are reaching adult age while in foster care, a situation experts fear leaves them vulnerable to homelessness, poverty and incarceration. State and welfare agencies say a lack of funding has been the greatest obstacle to getting these youths the safety net they need when they age out of the system. When they're pushed out onto the streets at age 19 after years of jumping from home to home, the trauma of being separated from their families and getting inconsistent adult guidance destines them to multiple problems, said Paul Toro, professor of psychology at Wayne State University. At Covenant House, a haven in Detroit for homeless and runaway youths, as many a third of residents have aged out of foster care, up from a fifth in previous years, said Melissa Golpe, spokeswoman for Covenant House. At the 75-bed facility, residents follow a strict schedule: waking at 6 a.m., breakfast at 8, and classes from 9:30 to 3:30 on life skills, GED study or career guidance. Staff members serve as counselors, life coaches and parents, teaching the youngsters to take responsibility for their actions.

Foster youth speak to policymakers about education
WMU News, Kalamazoo, MI – July 22, 2010
High school-aged youth who will soon age out of Michigan's foster care system will describe their experiences in finishing their education to legislators and other community leaders during a special meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 29, in Room 208 of the Bernhard Center on the campus of Western Michigan University. Young people from Kalamazoo, Jackson, and Washtenaw counties are expected to share their ideas and recommendations for policies and programs that could help them and other foster youth continue through college and into a career.

Life after foster care is an uphill battle
The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah – July , 23, 2010
Until she entered foster care, Bianca Flores was too busy tending to her three younger siblings to attend school. Her mother was either sick or MIA, gone for nearly a week at a time. There was no dad — never had been. So Flores filled in as best she could, putting her own life on hold. But since January 2009, Flores has powered through three years of high school credits, and this spring she will do what seemed unimaginable a year ago: Flores, 18, will graduate from high school, the second person in her family to do so. Next up is an even bigger challenge — at the end of August, Flores will exit the state’s foster care system and become a student at Snow College, where she plans to pursue a degree in graphic design.

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