Monday, October 25, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Daily Times, Middletown, PA – October 22, 2010
Imagine being in a very deep mine shaft with no light and no way to get out, and not even knowing you’re there.  That’s how Francis Carey, director of the Delaware County Office of Employment and Training, described the situation of high school dropouts, the focus of a two-day summit that culminated Thursday at Penn State Brandywine’s campus with a congregation of 50 social service agency, educational and business leaders, as well as students and parents.

Eagle-Tribune, Haverhill, MA – October 20, 2010
Denisse Baez said without programs like night school at Haverhill High, several of her friends would have quit long ago.  They would have joined former students who have kept Haverhill's dropout rate at nearly double the state average for the last five years.  The night school and other programs aimed at keeping potential dropouts in school will reach out to more students because of a federal grant announced yesterday. The grant total can reach $4 million in the next five years, school officials said.

Contra Costa Times, Oakland, CA – October 18, 2010
A 7-year-old nearly dwarfed by his black-and-white striped shirt and baggy pants, a 'tween in tight jeans and a whole stageful of youngsters did the moonwalk at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, nimbly gliding backward during a Michael Jackson dance contest. Nearby, a long line of parents and children waited for free shoes and school supplies in the bright August sun, while others grabbed free pizza.  The event: The city's third annual Back to School rally, cofounded by Nyeisha DeWitt and two fellow Oakland natives.  Apparently, there is no obstacle that can hinder DeWitt's fierce determination to keep Oakland children in school.

Juvenile Justice

Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL – October 18, 2010
It may be the only partnership of its kind in the U.S., bringing together CSO musicians, a music theater workshop focused on "at-risk" youths and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.  The path that led Chicago Symphony Chorus member Sarah Ponder to perform with residents in a youth correctional center began with two words uttered in 2008.  "Even prisons" were the words, and they were spoken by Riccardo Muti in his first Chicago news conference after being named music director of the 119-year-old classical music institution. The maestro outlined his plans for expanding the orchestra's community involvement to such areas as schools, hospitals, "even prisons."

Northland’s News Center, Duluth, MN – October 19, 2010
Community and government leaders came together Tuesday to discuss the importance of juvenile justice reform and ways to improve outcomes for kids.  The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative formed almost a year and a half ago with the intention to change the effect the justice system has on troubled kids.

News Observer, Durham, NC – October 23, 2010
Child advocacy groups pushing North Carolina to join the rest of the nation in treating miscreant 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles rather than adults will hold a public forum in Durham this afternoon.  Action for Children North Carolina and Covenant with North Carolina's Children, both based in Raleigh, are sponsoring the event. Panelists will discuss recidivism rates, childhood brain development and differences between the state's adult and juvenile justice systems.  North Carolina is the only state that treats all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults when they commit crimes, with no legal option to be processed as juveniles.

Foster Care

Seattle PI, King County, WA – October 18, 2010
Fueled by high unemployment and high housing costs, shelters for young adults in King County are turning people away in record numbers. The legacy of a failing foster care system and young people stranded by the crack epidemic of the late 1980s, the record demand experienced by these shelters illustrates a new face of homelessness, and comes even as the number of beds for young adults has been expanding.

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN – October 24, 2010
Jerry Harris isn't in foster care anymore, but the 18-year-old college student still needs plenty of moral support.  So while he studies art education and lives at a friend's house, Harris also attends life skills classes at the nonprofit South Memphis Alliance on Bellevue. "This program has helped me out a bundle by teaching me how to save money, open a bank account and formulate a budget," he said.  "Because I was a big spender. I like stuff."

The Ledger, Auburndale, FL – October 23, 2010
Anchor House Ministries is negotiating to assist the state's foster-care system in a pilot project to better prepare teenagers for going it alone once they're of age. The Auburndale agency that serves as a group home for troubled boys is working to lease apartment space to Heartland for Children, a local nonprofit that oversees foster care and adoptions services for the Department of Children & Families. Heartland is exploring the idea of group settings like Anchor House, which provide safe habitat with a modicum of security and oversight, as an alternative to housing older foster teens enrolled in the state's Independent Living Program in private apartments or with friends and relatives.

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The New York Times – October 10, 2010
The education gap facing the nation’s work force is evident in the numbers. Most new jobs will require more than a high school education, yet fewer than half of Americans under 30 have a postsecondary degree of any kind. Recent state budget cuts, education experts agree, promise to make closing that gap even more difficult. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and four nonprofit education organizations are beginning an ambitious initiative to address that challenge by accelerating the development and use of online learning tools.

The San Fernando Valley Sun, San Fernando Valley, CA – October 13, 2010
San Fernando High School and Pacoima Middle School are among 12 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools taking part in a five-year, $11.3 million Federal High School Graduation Incentive Grant program to lower dropout rates and boost student recovery efforts.  Joining San Fernando and Pacoima are Belmont, Gardena, Fremont, Huntington Park and Dorsey high schools, and John Liechty, Peary, Bethune, Gage and Audubon middle schools.

The Examiner, Brunswick, GA – October 16, 2010
Sixteen-year-old Nykeer Brown, a Brunswick High School junior, is doing better in school now than she ever imagined.  Not only is she scheduled to graduate on time in May 2012, but she's even working toward her goal of graduating a semester early, December 2011.  After struggling with low grades when she was at Jane Macon Middle School a few years ago and categorized as an at-risk student, Nykeer was identified for a program called Focus Graduation. The program falls under the umbrella of the nonprofit organization Communities in Schools - one of the nation's leading community based, drop-out prevention organizations that helps students succeed in school and prepare for life.

Juvenile Justice

The State, South Carolina – October 14, 2010
When the Department of Juvenile Justice demolished a dilapidated dormitory last month, it was the latest visible sign of the remarkable transformation the agency has undergone.  Just as the agency has begun constructing new buildings, it also has been rebuilding young lives. DJJ, once simply a warehouse for young lawbreakers, has become a place where lost young souls can expect a genuine effort to rehabilitate them in preparation for a second chance.

Winston-Salem Journal, North Carolina – October 17, 2010
North Carolina is the only state in the union that still requires all 16- and 17-year-olds to be tried as adults regardless of their offense, and advocacy groups want that to change.  “It does not make sense to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in the adult system,” said Barb Bradley, the president and CEO of Action For Children North Carolina, at a forum yesterday in Winston-Salem. Adolescents, she said, “don’t have that capacity in your brain to understand the consequences of some of your actions.”

Foster Care

PR Newswire, Schaumburg, IL – October 13, 2010
There is no denying that teenagers in the foster care system need special support so they can begin to develop the skills that will take them successfully into adulthood. The Coalition for At-Risk Youth (CARRY) was founded by Dr. Grimes in 2005 with the goal of providing opportunities for children and teens with skin diseases and other medical issues. Through CARRY, Dr. Grimes offers a wide range of services for youth who enter the program. Scholarships, mentoring, self-esteem workshops and a number of other individually targeted efforts underscore the organizations commitment to improving the outlook of teens with medical problems - one child at a time.

WCBD Channel 2, South Carolina – October 12, 2010
Thousands of children in South Carolina, victims of neglect and abuse, need permanent homes. A program is putting the problem in focus, an effort to help these children find forever families. Special portrait walls at Trident and Summerville Medical Centers are helping foster care children find forever families.  The South Carolina Heart Gallery is a program of the Governor's Office Children's Foster Care Review Board and South Carolina Department of Social Services.  Millie Qualls says, “If we don't find families for them, they age out of foster care, and statistics show very clearly, children who exit the foster care system at age 18 with no connections, it's very difficult. They haven't benefited from the love and nurture most kids do, and they may be homeless.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Center Post-Dispatch, Center, CO – October 7, 2010
Center High School students are taking advantage of a jump-start on their college education by enrolling in a new program made possible by legislation passed in the Colorado State Legislature in 2009.  A recent statement made during a Colorado Dept. of Education (CDE) meeting attended by Center school administrators indicates that currently Center High School is the only Valley school participating in the program.

Missoulian, Missoula County, MT – October 7, 2010
These high school dropouts. Who are they?  For one, they're Alvin Morin, who drank himself right out of class.  "During my junior year, I'd drink and never do any homework."  And they're Daniel Ewing, who was never any good at school but pretty good at scoring drugs.  "I just didn't care anymore, and I had no influences in my life to tell me to do things better." As a way of introduction, Graduation Matters poured a cold bucket of reality on a roomful of people Wednesday afternoon with the stories of these three "kids" - Morin is a 19-year-old man now, and the other two grew up way too fast.

PUSD awarded $2.4 million to increase graduation rates
Pasadena Star-News, Pasadena, CA – October 5, 2010
The Pasadena Unified School District announced Tuesday that it will receive a three-year, $2.4 million federal grant to increase graduation rates by 15 percent over the three-year period.  The grant from the U.S. Department of Education High School Graduation Initiative, will give PUSD about $800,000 a year to support dropout prevention strategies.  "These funds will ensure our ability to maintain dropout prevention and reduction as a priority, even in the midst of our current budget crisis," Superintendent Edwin Diaz said in a statement Tuesday.

Juvenile Justice

KCTV 5, Kansas City, MO – October 5, 2010
Fewer children are behind bars in Kansas City and it's thanks in part to the success of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a program that began four years ago.  The National Juvenile Justice Reform Conference is bringing more than 600 juvenile justice practitioners, advocates and experts to the metro to further discuss ways to further reform troubled youth.

Billings Gazette, Casper, WY – October 5, 2010
There’s a moment in “Your Neighbor’s Child,” a new documentary on Wyoming’s juvenile justice system, when a group of teenagers reflect on their time spent locked up.  One kid describes being assaulted and threatened with rape by other teens. Another recounts making drugs.  “I learned how to do more awful things in there,” he says matter of factly.  The feature-length documentary, which premiers Thursday, takes a critical look at Wyoming’s methods for dealing with young offenders. It depicts a system that locks up juveniles for minor offenses and leaves kids worse off than before they were incarcerated.

The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD – October 6, 2010
At a New Year's Eve party at a Baltimore home last year, several adults fired guns into the air. When police arrived, they arrested three adults and a 17-year-old I'll call Bernard. Never in trouble with the law before, Bernard was charged as an adult and held in adult jail until his family could produce bail.  Like many states during the 1990s, Maryland passed "tough-on-crime" laws that automatically send many teenagers, like Bernard, into the adult criminal justice system. These laws were based on fear — fear of juvenile "super-predators," a popular notion at the time — and fanned by occasional high-profile crimes committed by kids. Nearly a decade later, the super-predator concept has been debunked, and states are starting to roll back these punitive, ineffective laws. Maryland should join this movement and stop automatically charging youths as adults.

Foster Care

The Herald News, Fall River, MA – October 5, 2010
There is a pervasive attitude in the media that once a child has reached the tween years their patterns are pretty much set for life. If the kid has taken a troubled turn then more bad is most likely to follow.  Best not to get involved with such a thankless job.  Fortunately, the national statistics don’t support that theory. According to CORE,, a national children’s organization, 78.5 percent of children who age out of children’s homes in this country go on to college. That’s well above the national average.

89.3 KPPC, California – October 6, 2010
From now on, California will keep young people in foster care until they turn 21. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger held a ceremonial signing of Assembly Bill 12 in Los Angeles Wednesday.  The governor signed the bill on the campus of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services. He said that from now on, foster care kids won’t have to worry about aging out of the system when they turn 18.  "They need help. It’s ludicrous to think that at the age of 18, you can take care of yourself," said Schwarzenegger.

Providence Business News, Cambridge, RI – October 5, 2010
Rhode Island’s Real Connections program and Liquor Compliancy Online were selected as two of 173 Bright Ideas recognized by Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Real Connections, selected from 600 applicants, serves youth who are in danger of “aging out” of foster care without permanent adult supports in their lives. The program matches youth with adult mentors to cultivate connections towards becoming foster, guardianship or adoptive relationships.

Monday, October 04, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Valley News, Riverside, CA – October 1, 2010
A program to identify and help struggling high school students in Riverside County who are at risk of dropping out received a $1.3 million injection from the federal government, it was announced today.  The county's Office of Education was allocated the funds under the U.S. Department of Education's High School Graduation Initiative, which supports activities that engage troubled teens and attempt to steer them onto a productive academic course.

Hartford Courant, Hartford, CT – October 1, 2010
The federal government plans to spend $13.3 million in the next five years, including $2.7 million this school year, to reduce the dropout rate in a city where one out of two students don't graduate from high school, officials said Friday.  In an announcement at Hartford City Hall, U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, Mayor Pedro Segarra and Superintendent Steven Adamowski said the city school system would use the grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish Student Success Centers at Bulkeley, Weaver and Hartford Public high schools.  The centers will offer tailored academic instruction and personal support to students who are considered "off-track," or have previously dropped out and are back in city schools, administrators said.

UPI, Washington, DC – September 30, 2010
Nearly $100 million in grants were awarded to state and local efforts to improve academic performance and support dropout prevention, U.S. officials said.  Twenty-eight high schools will receive $52.2 million under the Smaller Learning Communities program and 29 states and districts will receive $46.6 million under the High School Graduation Initiative program, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday in a release.

Juvenile Justice

The Crime Report, New York, NY – September 29, 2010
New York City has begun to seriously re-think its juvenile detention policies, but it will take time for major changes to happen.  The city of New York operates a juvenile detention system, a sort of baby Rikers’ Island, where young people awaiting disposition of their family court cases are held. Like a city jail, the young people held in these facilities have not been found guilty of any crime. They are simply awaiting trial.  The Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice, which administer the facilities, don’t like to call them jails, or refer to the youth in them as incarcerated or label the court hearings for the children “trials.” There is a softer vocabulary for juvenile justice: youth are held in secure detention, remanded and awaiting disposition.

The News-Star, Monroe, LA – September 30, 2010
The goal to create a model juvenile drug court in the 4th District was a main topic of discussion Wednesday at the Joint Juvenile Justice Summit. District attorneys, judges, attorneys and probation officers from across the state gathered at the University of Louisiana at Monroe for the summit, hosted by the Louisiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the 4th Judicial District Court and the Louisiana District Attorneys Association.  The summit focused on issues within the state juvenile justice system and effective measures different entities are taking to ensure successful programs.

ABC32 WNFF, Montgomery, AL – October 1, 2010
Montgomery Public Schools has received a sizable federal grant to expand mentoring programs for at-risk students.  The U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recently awarded MPS’ Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) Initiative a two-year, $300,000 grant to begin offering community-based mentoring services to 60 students at-risk for truancy, juvenile delinquency, school failure and dropout.

Foster Care

Mercury News, California – October 2, 2010
Aiming to improve the dismal outcomes for thousands of 18-year-olds who leave the foster care system each year alone and impoverished, California will soon provide support through age 21 via a bill described as the most significant piece of foster care legislation in two decades.  The bill "legislates responsible parenting by the state," said Chantel Johnson, legislative coordinator for the California Youth Connection. Johnson, a former foster youth, said the new law will make her frightening experience "aging out" of foster care no longer so common: "I emancipated from a group home, and basically they handed us a trash bag on our 18th birthday after the cake and said: 'I hope you do well, come back and see us sometime.' "

Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama – September 30, 2010
Alabama's success in finding permanent homes for children in its foster care has paid off to the tune of $1.5 million. In 2009, the state had the highest number of adoptions in its history with 676 children being placed in permanent homes. And Gov. Bob Riley said he hopes that the momentum will continue long after he's out of office.

WQAD, Chicago, IL – October 2, 2010
Illinois has received a $10 million federal grant to test new ways of finding permanent homes for foster children.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the award Friday. It will fund a five-year project focusing on children ages 9 to 12. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services leads the project. Also involved are University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the juvenile courts and the Child Care Association of Illinois.