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.

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