Monday, August 30, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Market Watch, Downers Grove, IL – August 25, 2010
Lisa Pickrum, chief operating officer and executive vice president of the RLJ Companies announced a campaign to address the high school dropout crisis in America. Pickrum will be running both the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon in October to raise funds for the America's Promise Alliance's Grad Nation campaign.  Pickrum will hit the road in October and run 52.4 miles, with the goal of raising more than $100,000. One hundred percent of the funds will benefit the America's Promise Alliance and DeVry Inc. partnership initiative to expand Advantage Academies across the country.

Arlington recruits volunteers to combat high school dropout rates
Star-Telegram, Arlington, TX – August 28, 2010
While most Arlington teenagers reported for the first day of school last week to greet new teachers and reconnect with classmates, a few remained in bed when the first bell rang.  Whether they had to go to work or look for a stable place to live or were just frustrated with being behind on academic credits, over 100 Arlington high school students had no intention of showing up.  "These are kids we can't lose," said Wendy Carrington, dropout prevention director for the Arlington school district. "If we don't help, these students are going to get further and further behind."  Carrington's office is responsible for improving the district's high school completion rate of about 88 percent. To that end, the district is kicking off Operation Graduation Walk, in which volunteers and district officials will go out into neighborhoods looking for dropouts.

The Sun, San Bernardino County, CA – August 28, 2010
Cops and district attorneys enforce the law. It's their job and it's what they're good at. But the most enlightened of them know that it's easier - and cheaper - to keep people out of trouble than to deal with them once they're in it.  That's why Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, California - an organization made up of hundreds of police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and violence survivors - supports Senate Bill 1357 by Sens. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose. Their legislation, approved Thursday and sent to the governor, would help California schools identify students most at risk of dropping out at school while there's still time to steer them right.

Juvenile Justice

Citizens Voice, Wilkes-Barre, PA – August 25, 2010
In the heart of a courthouse tarnished by a far-reaching kids-for-cash scandal, Luzerne County's chief public defender on Tuesday touted a planned juvenile unit that officials believe will serve as a model for all of Pennsylvania.  In a joint news conference with County Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla,  Chief Public Defender Al Flora Jr. outlined his plans to assign three full-time lawyers solely to work juvenile court cases and to bolster the team with a licensed social worker, investigator and secretary.  Flora emphasized the increased staffing would allow his burdened office to meet national caseload standards and labeled the placement of juveniles in detention facilities a "last resort and not the first resort."

News West 9, Santa Fe, NM – August 30, 2010
Juvenile justice programs across New Mexico are getting $250,000 in federal economic stimulus money to help them cope with a budget squeeze.  Gov. Bill Richardson is allocating the money to help programs in 18 counties. Money will go to support substance abuse programs as well as teen courts and other juvenile justice rehabilitation services.

Foster Folly News, Washington County, FL – August 30, 2010
A group of young people received an up close and personal look at the judicial system Aug. 26 when they participated in the first session of the Washington County Teen Court program for 2010-11.  Two of the teens served as the proscecutor and defense attorneys, while others served as members of the jury.  The Teen Court session was overseen by Megan Ford, Assistant State Attorney.  The first Teen Court session of the new school year saw one male and one female brought before the court to received their sanctions. One defendant was before the Court for criminal mischief and the second for petty theft.

Foster Care

Knox News, Tennessee – August 25, 2010
Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids program will receive 2.3 million dollars in federal funding in an effort to increase sustainable broadband adoption and provide computers and training to over 60,000 disadvantaged youth across the state.  Computers 4 Kids joined 93 other Recovery Act investments in broadband projects that will create jobs and expand economic opportunities within 37 states. These investments in high-speed Internet infrastructure will help bridge the technological divide and support improvements in education, healthcare, and public safety.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act matching grant is awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. The Computers 4 Kids “Preparing Tennessee’s Next Generation for Success” project intends to focus on economically vulnerable youth in Tennessee by deploying laptops, academic support programs, and workforce training to two different, but especially at-risk populations: those “aging out” of the state’s foster care system when they turn 18 and youth who are active in the state’s 76 Boys & Girls Clubs.
The Florida Times-Union, Florida – August 25, 2010
One sure thing in Hannah Wilder's unsure life was that she wanted to be a nurse when she grew up.  After an abusive childhood, she spent her teen years bouncing around foster homes, running away, dropping out of school and thinking she was bigger than she really was.  Wilder, 22, of Hilliard is bigger now and no longer lives in a foster home. She's married with kids, and the foster care system that helped her as a teen is helping her achieve her dream of becoming a nurse.  Wilder started her first day of studies Monday to earn certification as a nursing assistant as part of a pilot program by the foster care agency Family Support Services of North Florida, in partnership with the Northeast Florida State Hospital in Macclenny.

Chillicothe Gazette, Ohio – August 29, 2010
Dominique Smith has limited time to help. She works with youth in the foster care system on gaining independent living skills through a Children's Services program. However, when they turn 21, she has to cut them loose -- if they even hung on for that additional three years of help.  Last week, one of Smith's former youths stopped her at a store and asked for help. She's without a job, struggling to get on her feet and turns 21 in Spetember.  Usually, she'd only have a month to get help and nowhere to turn, but a pilot program, Ohio Youth in Transition, just started with plans to service at-risk adults ages 18 to 29.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition

With few NM students available, NMSU goes out of state to recruit
El Paso Times, El Paso, NM - August 22, 2010
High-school graduation rates have declined in New Mexico, and that has turned college recruiting into a far-reaching enterprise. New Mexico State University has intensified its efforts to attract students from across the West. That means the Land of Enchantment is becoming an oasis for more high-school graduates from Arizona, California and Colorado. "We are more welcome here than in Colorado," said Bailey Schurr, an incoming NMSU freshman who is from a rural area of southwestern Colorado. Elsewhere in the West, universities face a crowding crisis. 

Campaign aims to boost adult education enrollment
The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, SC - August 17, 2010
A new national public service advertising campaign is under way to give high school dropouts access to information that will get them started on the road to a GED diploma, according to a release from the S.C. Department of Education. The initiative could lead to more enrollment in adult education programs and an increase in GED graduates in South Carolina, the release said. Dr. David Stout, director of the State Department of Education's Office of Adult Education, said campaign ads are aimed at men and women in their mid to late 20s who did not complete high school primarily because of personal or financial issues. In the 2000 census, 16.8 percent of South Carolina residents aged 25 to 34 said they had not obtained either a high school degree or a GED. "Research shows that at this age, a high school dropout has adjusted to working life and has begun to recognize that without additional education, he or she is going to get the lowest paying and least stable job," Stout said. "They may realize they need a GED, but they need to be reminded they can do it and shown how to proceed."

Fox2Now, St. Louis, MO – August 21, 2010
Volunteers swarmed the Normandy School District targeting dropouts Saturday morning. They went out after Brittany Gaines and close to 90 students like her. It looked like a sweepstakes prize patrol sweep through North County; going house to house, looking for students who dropped out of school last year or are deemed likely to do so this year.  About 75 volunteers; alumni, community, and business leaders set out on the second annual "Reach Out To Drop Outs" Campaign; their simple message seemed to hit home with at risk students.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile offender option praised
The Charleston Post and Courier, Charleston, SC- August 22, 2010
An internationally recognized treatment aimed at preventing the most troubled juvenile offenders from spiraling into lives of crime has gained traction throughout the country, but remains mostly unavailable in South Carolina, the state where it was developed. Supporters say Multisystemic Therapy, first researched at MUSC beginning in 1992, is more effective and less costly than putting juvenile criminals in traditional programs, which include wilderness camps and group homes.

Difference in sentencing of two juveniles highlights difficult issue
McClatchy Newspapers, Modesto, CA- August 21, 2010
A 14-year-old south Modesto boy who killed a young father at a child's birthday party will likely die in prison. Angel Cabanillas, now 19, stands to serve at least 100 years behind bars. But just 40 miles south in Merced, a boy who was 15 when he committed a fatal drive-by to impress his fellow gang members is set to be sentenced Monday to 31 years in prison. He could be out by the time he's 42. The disparity in their sentences reflects a divide in how judges and prosecutors handle violent crimes committed by children.

Foster Care

From almost homeless to hopeful at Lincoln Place
The Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN - August 21, 2010
Megan Brankley's new place has the feel of a college dorm. Her foster sister sits nearby, tapping away at the keyboard on a pink cell phone as pop and rap music blares from the stereo in the corner.

County giving special attention to teen moms in foster care
Dayton Daily News, OH - August 21, 2010
Vanessa Jackson's situation illustrates how difficult it can be finding foster parents willing to take in teen mothers. Jackson of Dayton was 14 when she entered the foster care system with her 2-year-old son D'Anthonie. By the time she turned 18 and left the care of Montgomery County Children Services, Jackson and her son had lived in seven foster homes.

The Orange County Register, Fullerton, CA – August 18, 2010
Teenage girls in foster care learned about the opportunities at Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday – and were invited to some day apply to the university.  Highlights of College Day were a brief speech by CSUF President Milton Gordon and a presentation about Guardian Scholars, a campus program that helps former foster youths finish college. "We'll try and get you in," Gordon told the 17 girls.  Social worker Brynn Noble said the goal of the event was to expose the girls to college opportunities available for them when they get out of foster care.

Monday, August 16, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Miami Herald, Miami, FL – August 10, 2010
Last year, more than 700 young adults -- dropouts, kids aging out of foster care and other at-risk groups -- asked the Greater Miami Service Corps for help in getting their lives on track.  But the Allapattah nonprofit group, which specializes in helping 18- to 23-year-olds get their GEDs and job skills, could only serve about 400 of those applicants, said executive director Deborah Dorsett.  Starting this month, however, a new partnership with a national education program that teaches young adults by engaging them with technology will allow the Service Corps to help improve even more young lives.

Detroit Free Press, Michigan – August 12, 2010
One in every four Michigan students will not graduate from high school with their class. Those sobering statistics are forcing the state to take a new approach to preventing dropouts.  Starting this fall, the state is introducing a database that for the first time pulls together in one place three dropout indicators referred to as the ABCs. These ABCs are attendance, behavior and classwork.

NPR, Austin, TX - August 9, 2010
Today, President Obama visited the University of Texas at Austin. The visit was meant to underscore his goal of making the U.S. number one again in one key measure, the percentage of young people who finish college. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.  The U.S. used to lead the world in college graduation, but not anymore. Today, it ranks no higher than 12th, well behind leaders like Korea, Canada, even Russia.  President Obama told students and professors at the University of Texas that's unacceptable.

Juvenile Justice

The Florida Times-Union, Atlanta, GA – August 9, 2010
A parade of judges, prosecutors and children's advocates told a Senate subcommittee Monday that the state needs to revise the law on juveniles to shift from putting mild cases behind bars to putting their entire families in treatment.  The challenge is coming up with the money to do it.  No one speaking before the subcommittee objected to what several described as "decriminalizing" so-called status offenders. Those are children who break laws they are subject to only because of their status as minors. Those laws include truancy, underage drinking, running away from home and being unruly.

The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD – August 11, 2010
Federal monitoring of the long-troubled Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center is likely to end soon, state juvenile services officials said Wednesday, making it the third youth facility in Maryland to be lifted from such oversight in little more than two years.  The officials said a U.S. Department of Justice monitor has told them the city facility appears to be in "substantial compliance" with an oversight plan laid out in May 2007. Federal officials sought to make the facility safer by improving suicide prevention programs, education and behavior management, said Jay Cleary, a spokesman for the state Department of Juvenile Services.

Foster Care

NBC15, Madison, WI – August 12, 2010
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Madison’s Community Development Authority (CDA) announced today that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded Madison almost $350,000 for 50 new housing vouchers to keep local families together in their homes.  Forty-two agencies received funding nationwide this year. Madison was one of only 4 agencies selected for funding in both 2009 and 2010. In August of 2009, Madison and Dane County received 100 vouchers. “In the challenging economic climate we face, this additional federal funding will keep 50 more families together in quality housing,” Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said. “I want to thank HUD for this important funding to help local families in need.”  The Family Unification Program vouchers are part of $20 million in federal funding to support partnerships between public housing agencies and local child welfare agencies to reunite 5,000 children with their parents and provide affordable housing and support to 750 young people leaving foster care. Returning these children home from foster care will save over $140 million in federal child welfare expenditures.

The News Journal, Delaware – August 11, 2010
It's only been within the last decade that federal and state governments have come to understand that self-sufficiency is not a dynamic result of turning 18, especially for children who age out of foster care.  Often physical and mental health issues, along with a lack of housing and job skills, are typical for foster children.  And many of these young people experience several foster-care residencies in their early lifetimes.  For those aging out of foster care, numerous charitable and private social services are available, but maneuvering in this world can be nearly impossible for the unprepared.  Often their host families are equally clueless.  So there is much benefit for these young people in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by six of Gov. Jack Markell's Cabinet members early this month.  The secretaries of Services for Children, Youth and their Families, Health and Social Services, Education and Labor, along with the director of the State Housing Authority and commissioner of prisoners agreed to collaborate and coordinate their services for those exiting foster care.

WFAE, Greensboro, NC – August 9, 2010
Lack of housing is an underlying cause for thousands of children remaining in foster care nationwide. Greensboro's Housing Authority has received a federal grant of half a million dollars to reunite some of those families.  On the official reports filed when a child is placed in foster care, you won't often find "homeless" as the primary reason for the placement. But you probably should. A $531,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will help Guilford County and the Greensboro Housing Authority reunite about 100 families.

Monday, August 09, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Twin Cities Daily Planet, Minnesota – August 2, 2010
There's a dollars and cents argument for graduating more students from America's high schools and for closing the graduation gap between white and non-white students, both here in the Twin Cities area and across the nation, a new study by the Alliance for Excellent Education shows.  One education proponent goes so far as to suggest "the best economic stimulus package is a high school diploma.''  That graduation gap is particularly alarming given that minority birth rates are increasing, added Bob Wise, president of the Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that has long worked to improve America's high schools.

The Forum, Fargo, ND – August 2, 2010
Fargo school officials plan to again push the North Dakota Legislature to move up the age to which students in the state have to attend school.  North Dakota students can drop out of school when they turn 16 – a law legislators considered moving to 18 in 2007, but it ­didn’t end up in legislation.  Now, Fargo School Board members expect to approve a resolution pushing policymakers to again add it to their agenda for the 2011 session.

Lansing State Journal, Lansing, MI – August 2, 2010
Missouri may be the "Show Me State," but the Lansing School District should aspire to be the "Show Them" district when it comes to its new direction for alternative education. Lansing administrators and school board members have committed to a new way to reach dropouts: online learning. Partnering with the firm AdvancePath Academics, Lansing will use space at Sexton High School to achieve what more traditional methods have not: Keep the teens in school and learning. For a district like Lansing, where two out of three high schools had graduation rates lower than the state average in 2008, experimentation is a necessity. But as any high-school science student can tell you, good experiments have to have good observation and honest reporting of results. Experiments succeed, and they fail.

Juvenile Justice

The Times, Illinois – August 4, 2010
In a move designed to provide more state resources for rehabilitating convicted youths into productive citizens, Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed merging the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the agency that now manages incarcerated minors, within the larger Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  Four years ago, the IDJJ, once a branch within the Illinois Department of Corrections, became an independent agency. Opponents of the merger, like state Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, who was against pulling the agency out of the corrections department in the first place, told The Times, "It would be better that this (merger), which will cost the state money, be done at some future date when the state might have the funds to better address the juvenile problem."

Reno Gazette Journal, Nevada – August 4, 2010
Kids on the fringe. Kids at-risk. Kids about to end up on the wrong side of graduation statistics. About 60 of those each summer participate in Project Walkabout, an eight-week boot camp where military-style drilling is as major a component as catching up on high school class credits.  The program this year enrolled 66 teens, including its largest contingent of female students, 18.  About 22 already have left the rigorous program, which started about 18 years ago as an alternative to for juvenile justice system to keep kids out of incarceration, and also to help them graduate.

Foster Care

Los Angeles Times, California – August 2, 2010
It can be lonely spending the summer in a mainly vacant college dormitory. But it's a worthwhile tradeoff for Daysi Espinoza, who's grateful to have a room at Cal State Fullerton to call home.  For Espinoza and hundreds of other former foster youths attending California's public universities, dorm rooms provide a much-needed stable residence. While classmates can retreat to childhood bedrooms and their families' embrace, these students are often on their own and want to stay in their dorms during vacations.
WMU News, Kalamazoo, MI – August 6, 2010
A $199,000 gift from the Binda Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., will add professional staff to a Western Michigan University program that is the nation's largest and most comprehensive effort to provide college access to young people who have aged out of foster care.  The gift from the Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation will allow the program to hire an additional campus coach for the next three years to enhance the support services the University is able to provide to students in its Foster Youth and Higher Education Initiative. The initiative, also known as the Seita Scholars Program, will have 115 students enrolled this fall.

Grant to help teach skills to at-risk youths
Courier-Post, Camden, NJ – August 5, 2010
The Housing Authority of the City of Camden will receive $400,400 in federal funding for its YouthBuild Program. The YouthBuild program assists out-of-school youths in obtaining their diplomas or general equivalency diplomas while providing occupational training in the construction industry. These at-risk young people build and renovate affordable housing in the city.  "I have so much respect for any of the young people that are involved," said David Goodman, the assistant program coordinator with YouthBuild in Camden. "They have chosen to walk through the door." The participants in YouthBuild programs include young people who have been in the juvenile justice system, youths aging out of foster care and high school dropouts.

Monday, August 02, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Group works to ease high school dropouts
News 14, Forsyth County, NC – July 27, 2010
Each year, hundreds of teens don't make it to graduation and end up dropping out of high school. It's a problem one group is working to solve with the help of the community. But now the group is in desperate need of volunteers for the upcoming school year. Every year, about 800 students drop out of Winston-Salem Forsyth County schools and officials say that only hurts the community. Statistics show high school dropouts are only qualified for twelve percent of jobs, are more likely to be on public assistance and 80-percent of prisoners never graduated high school. Most often, the students who are struggling and contemplating dropping out simply need a mentor or an alternative viewpoint to give them that extra boost.

Closing graduation gap for minority students: Putting a price tag on a high school diploma – July 27, 2010
There's a dollars and cents argument for graduating more students from America's high schools and for closing the graduation gap between white and non-white students, both here in the Twin Cities area and across the nation, a new study by the Alliance for Excellent Education shows. One education proponent goes so far as to suggest "the best economic stimulus package is a high school diploma.'' That graduation gap is particularly alarming given that minority birth rates are increasing, added Bob Wise, president of the Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that has long worked to improve America's high schools.

Brown unveils education reform plan
Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA – July 29, 2010
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown unveiled an education reform plan Wednesday that calls for a wholesale restructuring of California's public school system, from changing the way schools are funded to revamping the state's higher education system. The eight-page plan touches upon the major issues facing the state's education system, from the increasing cost of college to the state's dismal dropout rate. Some of the proposals, such as changing the way schools are funded, would take years. Brown urged patience.

Juvenile Justice

Merger of State Agencies Seen as Benefit for At-Risk Youth
WQAD, Moline, IL – July 29, 2010
When two companies merge, there can often be uncertainty and fear among the employees. Will the new union result in downsizing? Will everyone still have a job next month? Those were the concerns earlier this year when Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced what he called a major "sea change" in state service agencies-- merging the state Department of Juvenile Justice with DCFS, the Department of Child and Family Services. Critics said the move would wind up hurting Juvenile Justice, because the department would now be competing with DCFS for state funds. And those same critics say similar mergers in other states have failed. In the Quad Cities, though, two major services agencies say the merger is a great idea. Angela Moody is CEO of Arrowhead Ranch in Coal Valley, a service agency that receives state funds to help juvenile offenders and other at-risk youths. "The merger with DCFS creates opportunities for kids to maybe go and receive therapeutic services that they might not have received if they just remained with the Department of Juvenile Justice."

Peer pressure of another kind
Star Tribune, Minnesota – July 24, 2010
The roomful of teens in black shirts eating pizza, chatting and swilling soda seemed ordinary enough. Except for the police officers sitting among them -- one in uniform, two in plainclothes. And then there were the four students in a nearby hallway who had run afoul of school rules or state laws. The kids in black were there to decide their fate. It's called Peer C.O.R., or Peer Council for Offense Resolution. It is a program that started last year at East Ridge High School and already has spread to the other two high schools in the South Washington County district -- Park and Woodbury -- and a few others.

New program keeping troubled youths out of judicial system, Connecticut - July 25, 2010
A system of referring troubled teens to Family Support Centers rather than to detention facilities is keeping a large number of them out of the juvenile justice system, according to a new study drawing national attention. Since the program's launch in 2007, there has been a 41 percent decline in the number of youth who break rules but not the law referred to juvenile court, and a 94 percent decrease in the number of those youth cases handled by the judicial system. Developed by the Connecticut Judicial Branch's Court Support Services under the direction of an advisory board led by two University of Connecticut professors, the model is seen as so successful it's being touted as a "best practice" by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Foster Care

DCF Secretary to testify in D.C. on foster care
The Miami Herald, Tallahassee, FL – July 29, 2010
The head of the state's child welfare agency will testify in Washington D.C. about how states can use federal funds to keep children out of foster care. Florida's Department of Children and Families was the first to accept a federal waiver that allows unprecedented flexibility in funding abuse prevention services, which include parenting classes, substance abuse and mental health treatment and even emergency cash assistance. The flexibility allows the department to keep more families together by offering them help up front, instead of removing the children first. DCF has reduced the number of foster children by 36 percent since 2007.

Make Room for Emancipated Foster Youth
Santa Barbara Independent, Santa Barbara, CA – July 30, 2010
The Artisan Court studio apartments are intended to provide affordable housing for young people who have recently aged-out of foster care. To raise fund for supplying the apartments with basic, starting essentials, Second Story Associates, a nonprofit affiliate of the City of Santa Barbara’s Housing Authority, has launched the Adopt-a-Room campaign. Thirty-two percent of foster kids experience homelessness within three years of emancipation, according to a Santa Barbara Housing Authority press release. Hopefully, the 55-unit Artisan Court, currently under construction at 422 E. Cota Street and expected to be ready for occupancy December, will improve that statistic and the cruel reality behind it.

Fewer Pa. children in foster care earns praise
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania – July 24, 2010
Thanks to a host of new strategies -- the latest a reference guide for family court judges and child practitioners -- the state is improving the way cases involving neglected and abused children are handled both in the courtroom and outside it. According to Department of Welfare statistics, the number of Pennsylvania children in foster care fell from 21,395 in September 2006 to 15,920 in March 2010. As a result of 5,475 fewer children in foster care, the child welfare system has saved Pennsylvania $220 million. The number of children in foster care in Allegheny County decreased by 1,005, from 2,918 to 1,913, during that four-year period.