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.

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