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.

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