Monday, November 29, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The Sun, San Bernardino, CA – November 26, 2010
Karla Antunez has only just begun her studies at San Gorgonio High School, but her father is already looking ahead to her graduation date.  To ensure she and other area students get there, Jorge Antunez and other parents involved with Inland Congregations United for Change have embarked on an effort to improve graduation rates in the San Bernardino City Unified School District.  "Little by little the dropout rate in the district is decreasing, but there are still a lot of dropouts, so I want to make sure my daughter graduates and gets a career," he said.  

USA Today – November 26, 2010
A growing network of online classes is giving thousands of high school students a second or third chance to pass courses they need to graduate, from algebra and history to health and physical education.  The classes are part of a widening phenomenon called credit recovery — a term that sounds more about erasing debt than advancing education but actually enables troubled students to get credit for classes they've previously failed or didn't complete.

The Salem News, Salem, OR – November 23, 2010
A public charter school would help the city better meet the needs of a significant but hard-to-reach group — high school dropouts and at-risk students — community leaders told a state commission yesterday.  Advocates for the Salem Community Charter School touted the opportunities the new program would provide to a student group struggling to achieve under traditional teaching models.

The Wall Street Journal, Albany, NY – November 27, 2010
A report commissioned by the state's Office of Children and Family Services says hauling parents into family court is not the best way to combat a rising tide of kids who chronically miss school.  In New York City, "chronic absenteeism" — when a student misses at least 20 of the 180 days in a school year — afflicts 40 percent of high school students and educators currently refer cases to social services for neglect.  "I've talked to a lot of principals on this," said Kim Nauer, who researched the city's statistics. "Schools call in these child protective services reports because they're frustrated with the families and their inability to get these kids to school."  Under New York law, chronic school absence is a trigger for complaints to the Office of Children and Family Services. Referrals can lead to family court, foster care or probation-like PINS supervision.

Juvenile Justice

Correctional News, Washington, DC – November 24, 2010
The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice released its annual report calling for various reforms to the juvenile justice system in the United States.  The FACJJ Annual Report 2010 is distributed to members of congress and the executive branch providing recommendations as to the federal government’s role in the juvenile justice system, which falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which oversees the committee. FACJJ members are made up if juvenile justice professionals from every state.
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL – November 26, 2010
When a Jacksonville mother signed her 16-year-old son up for a program aimed at keeping lawbreaking juveniles from having a criminal future, his reaction was uplifting, she said.  At the time, Gregory Glover was being held in the Hastings Youth Academy on a 14-month sentence for battery on a school resource officer.  "I know this is a good program because I saw a light go on in him," Jodi D. Glover recalled.

Foster Care

Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska – November 27, 2010
Her job title is youth navigator, but Beth Croston Hansen doesn’t use an atlas. She helps youths turning 19 progress to independent living as they become too old for Nebraska’s foster care system.  “The goal of this program is to help them make the transition after aging out of foster care. My job mainly is to get them hooked up with medical care,” Croston Hansen said.  She does that through her job at OneWorld Community Health Centers, 4920 S. 30th St., in the Livestock Exchange Building.  Last year, 208 children in Nebraska aged out of foster care. Four of them returned to their families, and the other 204 began to live on their own, according to statistics from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

The Times Leader, Harrisburg, PA – November 26, 2010
Gov. Ed Rendell signed into law Wednesday legislation authored by state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston, to protect the rights of foster children.  Act No. 119, known as the Children in Foster Care Act, addresses the basic needs that weigh greatly in a child’s quality of life.  They include: the right to live in a safe and healthy home; access to routine medical care; access to a quality education; access to life-skills training and services to ease the transition to adulthood; and freedom from harassment, corporal punishment, unreasonable restraint, and physical, sexual, emotional and other abuse.

The Oakland Tribune, Richmond, VA – November 24, 2010
Growing up surrounded by violence and drugs, suffering abuse and moving from home to home, Adrian Morris was more preoccupied with surviving than doing well in school.  The Richmond girl's mother dealt with addiction, and her father was in and out of jail. For several years, Morris and her sister bounced between relatives' homes, then were removed to foster care when Morris was 10. For the next eight years, Morris made her way through a half-dozen foster homes, always trying to get by. "It was really hard," she said. "You had drugs and prostitution around you, and on top of that you have to go to school. I didn't really pay attention in my classes. I didn't care about myself at all."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


CBS 4 Denver, Cheyenne, WY – November 19, 2010
Officials at a Wyoming National Guard program that helps high school dropouts get back on track with six months of exercise, coursework and community service literally have been knocking on doors to recruit new cadets.  Wyoming Youth ChalleNGe officials say their efforts are paying off.  The voluntary program at Camp Guernsey in southeast Wyoming has been averaging just 30 to 40 cadets since it was started in Wyoming in 2006. Twenty-three are enrolled in the fall class and preparing to graduate Dec. 11.

Twin Cities Daily Planet, Minneapolis, MN – November 20, 2010
Deneazra Burns wants to "break stereotypes" about teen moms: teen moms are not all high school dropouts and don't become pregnant to get attention. They're just trying to finish school and do well for themselves and their child.  Burns attends Broadway High School in Minneapolis, an alternative high school devoted to pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers finishing their high school education. It also emphasizes the importance of mother-child relationships with morning childcare lessons and day care facilities.

The Boston Globe, Brockton, MA – November 21, 2010
The air conditioning was a sign of things to come. At 548,000 square feet, as large as a small aircraft carrier, Brockton High School had every modern convenience when its newest building opened in 1970. It was also plagued by low test scores and a high dropout rate. But as Brockton High celebrates its 40th anniversary, the students’ performance has caught up to the state-of-the-art facilities. The 4,400 students hail from more than 50 countries; more than one-third speak a language other than English at home; and 70 percent come from low-income households. Yet Brockton High has been designated a model school by The International Center for Leadership in Education for seven straight years. The school made US News & World Report’s list of America’s best high schools in 2007 and 2009, and has been the subject of recent glowing reports by The New York Times and CBS Evening News.  The key, said Anna Bradfield, Bridgewater State University’s dean of education and allied learning, is the cooperation of the school administration, teachers, parents, students, and the community at large.  Brockton, like other lower-income cities, faces distinctive challenges such as latchkey kids who are alone most of the time because a parent may be working extra jobs, or perhaps struggling with drugs and alcohol.  The answer lies in wrap-around services outside of school hours.

Juvenile Justice

State applauds Kane Juvenile Justice Center
Geneva Sun, Kane County, IL – November 19, 2010
The Kane County Juvenile Justice Center has received high praise from the state.  The St. Charles Township-based facility complies with all juvenile justice standards and has made several improvements since last year, an annual inspection report said.  In addition, the report praised Rick Anselme, superintendent of the facility, for his team’s ability to keep residents — who can be volatile and have a propensity to become violent — engaged in programs and out of segregated confinement.

DA plans student outreach program
Citizens Voice, Luzerne County, PA – November 18, 2010
Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll will debut an educational outreach program aimed at junior high school students next week in Nanticoke, her office said Tuesday.  Musto Carroll, a member of the Juvenile Justice Task Force formed in the wake of the Luzerne County "kids-for-cash" scandal, will speak to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders on Monday at the Greater Nanticoke Area High School.  The program, marketed as 2Smart4Trbl, is designed to dispel myths and misinformation about delinquent acts while educating youth about the juvenile justice system and the ramifications of illegal activity.

Florence teens learn life skills at youth summit
WMBF News, Florence, SC – November 20, 2010
While most kids spend their Saturday mornings sleeping in, teens in the Pee Dee got up bright and early to attend a summit that aims to empower South Carolina's youth.  The 5th Annual Village at Work Youth Empowerment Summit was held at the Florence Civic Center Saturday morning. This was the first time it was held in the Pee Dee Region in the history of the event.  The summit is a product of The Community DMC Reduction Project, an initiative of the Children's Law Center of the University of South Carolina.  It seeks to promote alternatives to the use of detention centers for non-violent minority youth groups.

Foster Care

Helping foster teens transition to adulthood
Miami Herald, Miami Dade County, FL – November 19, 2010
M.A.P.S., short for "Mentor, Attorney and Peer Support,'' is a program that brings together the nonprofit group Lawyers For Children America and former foster care youth to provide advocacy and mentoring to current foster teens who will soon age out of the system.  The law firm of Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod recently welcomed new M.A.P.S. participants and generously donated computers to all of the foster teens who are currently involved in the project. These computers will enable recipients to conduct research, navigate the Internet, complete school assignments and build additional skill sets that will assist them in future career planning.

The Good Samaritan Boys Ranch Opens New Living Facility
KSMU NPR Public Radio, Missouri – November 16, 2010
The Good Samaritan Boys Ranch opened a brand new home for boys on Tuesday morning, marking the first phase in their development of a new campus. Justin Lux has the report.  The boy’s ranch oversees the Footsteps Transitional Living program. Many of the boys here are aging out of the foster care system.  For 20-year old Josh Snyder, the transitional living program has been an absolute blessing.

On Their Own: Aging out of Foster Care
KWCH News, Wichita, KS – November 15, 2010
At age 18, you may be considered an adult but that doesn't mean you're ready to be on your own. For hundreds of Kansans, that doesn't matter. They age out of foster care and it's up to them to follow through getting help. We introduce you to two area teens trying to make it on their own.  Everybody has a story and for some Kansas kids the early chapters are not pretty. "My mom smoked crack, drank and smoked pot every day she was pregnant with me," said former foster child Modia Evans. "There wasn't any safe place for me," another former foster child Jonathan Miller.  The themes of Miller and Evans' stories are similar, both grew up without their parents. Evans bounced between extended family until entering foster care at age 17. "I was living like a foster kid before I got into the system," she said. Miller entered the foster care system at age three. "Obviously I hated foster care and I didn't want to be in it," Miller said.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The Indianapolis Star, Marion County, IN – November 14, 2010
Jamie Pittman is used to conducting job interviews. She's the director of nursing at The Indiana Heart Hospital.  But on this day, as she asked a young man that classic interview question, "Tell me about a time you made a mistake and what you learned from it," the answer was a shocker. Pittman is a volunteer who twice a month takes a break from her busy workday to mentor at-risk students.

The Huffington Post, New Haven, CT – November 9, 2010
New Haven officials have unveiled New Haven Promise, a new program that grants college tuition to qualifying public and charter high school students.  In order to be applicable for free college tuition dollars to any public college or university in the state, high school students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and have a 90 percent attendance rate.

Ventura County Star – November 13, 2010
To build long-term strength as a nation, we need to recognize that our greatest asset is our children and act accordingly. Ensuring their success means a vibrant country of strength. Yet, a sustainable nation with high quality of life is threatened by our most precious asset dropping out of school. Thirty percent of all of America’s high-school students fail to graduate on time, and worse, nearly half of African-American and Latino males never graduate.

Juvenile Justice

San Francisco Chronicle – November 10, 2010
What does it say about our criminal "justice" system when the seemingly just verdict and sentencing of Johannes Mehserle to two years for involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting Oscar Grant is met with violent protests? It reflects the reality that significant portions of our society - impoverished African Americans and Latinos - face discrimination in a racist justice system that no one seems interested in fixing. The Coalition for Juvenile Justice, a federally funded panel examining the reasons for the disproportionate incarceration rates, found "youth of color receive harsher sanctions than their white counterparts at every stage of the juvenile court system, from the point of surveillance (including racial profiling) to disposition/trial, sentencing, and incarceration." In California, the Drug Policy Alliance found that in 25 of the state's biggest counties, African American youth are arrested at three and sometimes four times the rates of white youth for pot possession, despite evidence that young African Americans use pot less than young whites. Studies also show that adult non-white offenders are arrested more, sentenced more and serve longer sentences than their white counterparts for the same crimes.

The Baltimore Sun – November 13, 2010
Four years ago, Darren Farmer's day started at noon and ended at 3 a.m. on a drug-riddled street corner.  The 16-year-old had walked away from Frederick Douglass High School, one of nearly 3,000 city students to drop out that year, because he "just felt as though I had no need for school if I couldn't make money." Dealing drugs filled his pockets with cash.  Soon, Farmer was arrested on drug and handgun charges and was incarcerated for two years. But this fall, he re-entered the city school system and is on his way to obtaining a high school diploma — a face behind the encouraging statistics that many say show that Baltimore is moving in the right direction.

The Florida-Times Union, Duval County, FL – November 11, 2010
A $9 million, six-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will help Duval County establish a system of mental health care for children and youth.  The grant will focus initially on children in foster care and the juvenile justice system, homeless children, as well as young, high-risk children in challenged neighborhoods.

Foster Care

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, VA – November 9, 2010
Before this year, you wouldn't have heard Kivon Matthews, 16, talking about foods like that, much less cooking with them.  Now she has expanded her horizons in a new culinary program at Charterhouse Day School at UMFS (United Methodist Family Services), part of an expansion that more than doubled the school's space and increased enrollment by more than half.  "We cook things we didn't know about before," Matthews said. She added that even if nonculinary student Chris Martin, 15, turned up his nose at anything involving olive oil, she liked it.  When the school's new space is celebrated today on the UMFS grounds with a keynote speech by Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, an open house will feature dishes prepared by Matthews and others in the new culinary program.

Des Moines Register, Iowa – November 11, 2010
Eighty balloons – each representing 100 Iowa children currently in foster care - were released locally Nov. 6 to honor and raise awareness for Iowa children waiting to be adopted.  Iowa KidsNet, the statewide collaboration of agencies that recruits, trains, licenses and supports all of Iowa’s foster and foster adoptive parents, planned the statewide balloon release at nearly 20 locations across Iowa, including Class Act Production Theatre in Altoona and Berean Assembly of God in Pleasant Hill.  Each site released 40 biodegradable balloons; one balloon represented approximately 100 children in foster care, shelter care or group care in Iowa on any given day.  Angela Albers, who this year launched Dropz of Hope — a nonprofit foster parent support organization — organized the Pleasant Hill release.

Monday, November 08, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The New York Times, Houston, TX – November 5, 2010
Brett Rusnock can follow his students’ every move on his laptop: how much time they spend on computers each day at Waltrip High School in Houston, their scores on quizzes and when they stop working. He even gets e-mail alerts when they toil at home into the wee hours. “I can play Big Brother a little bit with this,” Mr. Rusnock said. Mr. Rusnock is not a teacher. He is a grad coach, one of 27 in Houston monitoring thousands of students who take so called credit-recovery courses online. Like many other districts across the state, particularly those with high dropout rates, the Houston Independent School District offers these self-paced make-ups to any student who fails a class.
The Huffington Post, Indianapolis, IN – November 5, 2010
Indianapolis' Excel Center set its enrollment at 200 students when it opened its doors this fall to give high school dropouts another opportunity to earn a diploma, reports Take Part. Just months later, more than 800 people are eagerly waiting to get in. A charter school funded partly by Goodwill Education Initiatives, the Excel Center focuses on dropout recovery, rather than prevention. In a city with one of the highest dropout rates in the country, the Excel Center has honed its strategy, encouraging students to earn diplomas instead of GEDs.

Fox 10 TV, Mobile County, AL – November 5, 2010
Here's a startling statistic for you, nearly half of all Mobile County Public School students will drop out. The superintendent said by the third grade, some teachers can pin point students at risk.  Brooke Sellers was close to dropping out of school.  The 18-year-old said school wasn't for her, so she started looking for jobs.  Instead of landing in the world of nine to five, she landed in a Drop Back in Program.

Juvenile Justice

The Palm Beach Post News, Palm Beach County, FL – November 1, 2010
For many youthful offenders, getting arrested means guaranteed time in a juvenile detention center to wait for a hearing or trial.  Elise Johansen, director of Youth Enrichment Services at Gulfstream Goodwill, says she's seen incarceration too often turn teens with a chance to correct their wrongs into repeat offenders who end up spending years in the system.  But now Johansen and others at Goodwill are hoping an alternative program they began last month in Palm Beach County will keep some of those borderline teens out of jail. It could even help some of them figure out whether undiagnosed mental or behavioral issues contributed to their choices.

Reforms OKd at LA County juvenile detention school
San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles County, CA – November 4, 2010
Education at Los Angeles County's biggest juvenile detention center will be overhauled by a team of national experts under the terms of a legal settlement announced Thursday.  The county Probation Department and Office of Education have agreed to completely revamp the high school at the county's Challenger Memorial Youth Center, which comprises six camps in Lancaster, said the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.  Calling Challenger a "hellish place" and the "black hole of Los Angeles' juvenile justice system," ACLU Chief Counsel Mark Rosenbaum said the settlement will boost the youthful inmates' chances at rehabilitation over recidivism.

The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, IN – November 2, 2010
Kids who have gotten into trouble with the law and spent time behind bars aren't exactly poster children for today's youths, says Indiana Juvenile Justice Task Force head Bill Glick.  They have trouble finding jobs. They often lack education. Many of them end up back in prison.  But Glick and supporters of the Indianapolis-based statewide agency think youngsters who have been through the juvenile justice system need a helping hand despite reductions in taxpayer support over the years. Doing so, they say, can help the state save money in the long run.

Foster Care

Youth Today, Hawaii – November 5, 2010
The suicide of a teenager shortly after aging out of foster care has ignited a public debate in Hawaii about the struggles of older foster kids, and prompted the state to take the rare step of making the youth’s case files public.  The hanging death of Erwin Celes in September, six months after he emancipated from foster care, set off a phenomenon that in some ways is typical – with state child welfare officials disputing accusations of failure from youth advocates and lawmakers – but which stands out because the victim was not a young child, but a teen who was no longer in the system. The emotional public discussion, including heavy media coverage and a state legislative hearing, comes amid a national movement toward expanding services for older foster youth.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, VA – November 7, 2010
International and national events during the past year have heightened public awareness about adoption, sometimes exacerbating misconceptions or distracting the public from the fact that across the United States there are children waiting today to be adopted. In Virginia alone, 1,500 are available for adoption out of the public foster care system. Virginia has been making positive strides in finding adoptive families for foster care children. The commonwealth has, for example, instituted a range of services to prevent children from entering foster care in the first place. As a result, Virginia has one of the lowest rates of children in the system. However, great challenges remain. Children spend more time in Virginia foster care than in many other states, and Virginia still has the highest percentage of youth who are "aging out" without being adopted.

Radio Iowa, Iowa – November 4, 2010
November is “National Adoption Month” and an Iowa group is asking everyone to look around their community and see if there are opportunities to adopt. Iowa KidsNet director Amy Juhnke says on average in Iowa, there are 600 kids available from foster care on a day-to-day basis. While her group works with foster care adoptions, she says the month celebrates all adoptions from international to private adoptions. Juhnke says they are always looking for people willing to take kids in from foster care. Juhnke says the process to adopt a foster child is similar to becoming a licensed foster parent, and they have many parents who are foster parents and adopt foster kids. She says you go through the process and they offer training.

Monday, November 01, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama – October 26, 2010
Up until 2009, 16-year-old Alabamians had the authority to make a life-altering decision. Whether they knew it or not, this decision would impact their future earning potential, increase their likelihood of going to prison and possibly earn them a one-way ticket into poverty.  They could decide to drop out of school.  The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that the students who dropped out in 2008 will cost the state of Alabama $1 billion in lost wages over their lifetimes.

The Wall Street Journal, Washington, D.C. – October 30, 2010
Our time in office and in charge of the school system of Washington, D.C., is quickly drawing to an end. Monday is Michelle's last day as schools chancellor, and Mayor Fenty failed to win the Democratic primary last month. A new mayor will be elected next week.  During our nearly four years in office we pressed forward an aggressive educational reform agenda. We were determined to turn around D.C.'s public schools and to put children above the political fray, no matter what the ramifications might be for ourselves or other public officials. As both of us embark on the next stages of our careers, we believe it is important to explain what we did in Washington, to share the lessons of our experience, and to offer some thoughts on what the rest of the country might learn from our successes and our mistakes.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia – October 26, 2010
Georgia's high school graduation rate rose 2 percentage points this year, bringing it to a record 80.8 percent, state officials announced Tuesday. But some national education experts say the 17-point gain in graduation rate over seven years cited by  the state  is suspect because of  a flawed system used to calculate it.  The 2010 state graduation rates cited by the state  improved for students in all racial and economic groups, including:  -- Georgia’s African-American students had a graduation rate of 75.8 percent, up more than 23 percentage points from 2003 and from 74.1 percent in 2009.  -- Hispanic students had a graduation rate of 77.6 percent, up more than 29 percentage points from 2003 and from 71 percent in 2009.

Juvenile Justice

The Crime Report, New York - October 25, 2010
The New York State juvenile detention system, where 85 percent of those incarcerated are minorities, is working to reduce racial disparity, says Gladys Carrion, New York commissioner of children and family services. Speaking to a Coalition for Juvenile Justice conference on Fundamental Fairness: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice, Carrion says data show a “disproportionate representation of minority youth at critical decision points in the juvenile justice system” in the state. ”We need a juvenile justice system that values young people and doesn’t write them off as throwaways and believes that the young have the capacity to change their behavior and mature,” Carrion said.

The Wall Street Journal – October 29, 2010
Judges are grappling with whether it is ever proper to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without parole in light of a Supreme Court decision that such a punishment for non-murderers is cruel and unusual. In its May ruling, the Supreme Court reasoned juveniles are less culpable than adults for their crimes because they are less able to control their behavior, and they have a better chance of being rehabilitated.

The Daily Tar Heel, North Carolina – October 29, 2010
North Carolina is discussing an issue of age — and it’s not the drinking age.  The state may soon allow 16- and 17-year-olds to be tried in the juvenile justice system.  North Carolina is the most strict for young offenders, trying those at or above age 16 in the adult system, Judge Marcia Morey of Durham County District Court said.  The issue will go to the N.C. General Assembly in 2011, she said.

Foster Care, Flint, MI – October 26, 2010
For young women who are leaving foster care, often there is no place to go. Now, they have a place to call home.  Nina's Place, a center for young women who have aged out of foster care, will celebrate its grand opening at the YWCA of Greater Flint Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin were instrumental in securing the $850,000 grant to pay for the program for two years, said Harmony Langford, director of operations at YWCA of Greater Flint.

The Huffington Post, Baltimore, MD – October 26, 2010
Baltimore City Public Schools and the Baltimore City Department of Social Services find common ground on the education of children in foster care.  Few moments in the life of a child and family can rival the trauma that comes the day the state knocks on the door and places that child into foster care. Often this is only the first in a fast sequence of events that will invariably alter that child's life well into adulthood.  As children around Baltimore settle into the routine of the school year, the distinct minority who enter foster care will struggle to find stability.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Daytona Beach, FL – October 30, 2010
The local child welfare agency that has served foster children for almost 10 years will be competing to renew about a $27 million-a-year contract with the state.  The state Department of Children & Families is seeking proposals for a nonprofit or governmental community-based organization to serve as the lead provider starting July 1 for five years to provide foster care services, including emergency shelter, case management, adoption and a host of other services. Agencies have until Jan. 13 to submit to the local DCF contract office, and a review committee will rate the proposals, then make a recommendation to the circuit and regional directors. Community Partnership for Children, in Daytona Beach, currently provides services to about 1,200 children who are in foster care or receiving services in their home.